KARTIKE, Nepal — When Peter Dalglish, a lauded humanitarian worker, built a sleek cabin near a Nepalese village of rutted roads and hills ribbed with rice paddies, locals knew virtually nothing about him.
But over several years, Mr. Dalglish, a Canadian, endeared himself to many in the community, greeting villagers in Nepali, offering chocolates from Thailand to children playing in the forest and helping people rebuild their homes destroyed by devastating earthquakes in 2015.
The good will was shattered last month when the police swarmed around Mr. Dalglish’s home, placed a gun to his head and arrested him on charges of raping at least two boys, 12 and 14.
Suddenly, villagers were on edge, worried about how far the betrayal — and abuse — may have stretched.
“We trusted him,” said Sher Bahadur Tamang, who said he received hundreds of dollars from Mr. Dalglish to pay for his child’s education. “He treated us so well. We never knew what was inside his mind.”
Mr. Dalglish’s downfall has been a shock partly because his work aiding street children around the world was so widely admired. In 2016, he was awarded the Order of Canada, the country’s second highest civilian honor.
Nepal is one of Asia’s poorest countries, and thousands of nongovernmental organizations operate with limited government oversight. The absence of strict regulations means aid groups can be used as a cover for human traffickers and predatory behavior by humanitarian workers, said Pushkar Karki, the head of Nepal’s Chief Investigation Bureau, the agency overseeing the case against Mr. Dalglish.
Earlier this year, the police arrested Hans Jürgen Gustav Dahm, 63, a German who was running a charity organization in Kathmandu that provided free lunches to children, many of whom accused him of sexual abuse.
In the last two years, five other foreign men, including Mr. Dalglish, 60, have been arrested on suspicion of pedophilia, Mr. Karki said. “There have been some instances where they were found working with charities,” he said, noting that several of the men informally offered money, food and clothing to children. “Our laws aren’t as strict as in foreign countries, and there is no social scrutiny like in developed countries.”
The arrest of such a notable humanitarian has added urgency to a new effort by aid workers around the world, who are saying it is now time to investigate themselves. Late last year, they started a #MeToo-like movement called #AidToo.
In February, Oxfam, one of Britain’s largest