Dear Shambhala Community –
Over the past two weeks, we have continued to receive many questions, concerns and letters from you. We are listening to your voices and want to provide further information about the independent investigation and allegations of sexual misconduct.
Although we are preparing to formally exit our legal and fiduciary roles as Kalapa Council members as soon as the Interim Board is seated, caring for our community and survivors remains a priority.
Sometimes it is difficult to feel each others’ hearts in the midst of talk about investigations, legal issues and financial reports. We feel that the Shambhala sangha, lineage and our relationships are worth healing, and hope that through honesty, and understanding, there can be a Shambhala that serves and supports all who practice within the community.
We have also received many questions about when the Sakyong will speak to the community again. We are aware that, out of respect for the independent investigation, he does not plan to any make formal statements until the conclusion of the investigation.
We want to underscore that our primary goal in initiating the independent investigation and in contracting with An Olive Branch is to provide safe spaces for survivors of harm to bring their stories forward. We understand that many have lost trust in Shambhala’s institutional processes for handling cases of abuse and harm. Many of you have written to us with questions and concerns about the neutrality of this investigation.
Attached to this e-mail is a letter from Ballard Spahr, a law firm that has offered to advise Shambhala’s leadership pro-bono on how best to navigate the investigation process. Steven Suflas, a partner at Ballard Spahr, wrote the attached memo which provides an outside view of the Wickwire Holm investigation process.
You can click here or scroll to the bottom of this e-mail to read the letter from Mr. Suflas.
We have also heard from the community that some survivors need more time to trust this process and consider coming to the investigation with their stories. To that end, on September 5, the Kalapa Council approved a two-week extension of the deadline for bringing claims forward to the independent investigation.
Wickwire Holm will now accept accounts of harm through November 16, 2018. Claims of sexual assault or misconduct by any teacher or leader in the Shambhala community can be raised directly to the investigator, Selina Bath, of Wickwire Holm by e-mail or phone at (902) 482-7030. It is critical to the investigation process that all accounts will be held confidentially.
Response to Recent Allegations
We have received many questions about the recent allegations raised against Kalapa Council members named in Buddhist Project Sunshine 3. In response, we would like to clarify our previous statement: The intention of that statement was to deny the allegations in the story from “Ann” and in Buddhist Project Sunshine 3 related to the Kalapa Council members mentioned and the Sakyong. As with the other stories being brought forward, we encourage anyone with claims of abuse or harm to bring them to the Wickwire Holm investigation or to An Olive Branch.
On September 4, An Olive Branch formally opened their Listening Post, where victims may receive direct support and resources, or report cases of sexual or gender harm. Please click here to read more about how you can engage with the Listening Post.
As always, we invite you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or concerns. You may also contact the Transition Task Force at email@example.com with questions regarding their work in selecting the Interim Board and Process Team.
The Outgoing Kalapa Council
The Outgoing Kalapa Council
Josh Silberstein, Chair
Letter from Ballard Spahr
Steven Suflas, a partner at Ballard Spahr, wrote the attached letter which provides an outside view of the Wickwire Holm investigation process. Ballard Spahr is a law firm that has offered to advise Shambhala’s leadership pro-bono on how best to navigate the investigation process.
Please click here to read the letter from Mr. Suflas.