Richard Daschbach, the laicised American priest whose child sexual abuse trial has shaken deeply Catholic Timor-Leste, has been found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Source: The Age.
The 84-year-old learnt his fate yesterday in the District Court of Oecusse, the western Timorese enclave where he abused children at a remote shelter he ran for girls and boys for more than two decades.
Revered to such an extent that his followers believed he had special powers, Daschbach was suspected of abusing at least a dozen young girls at the Topu Honis orphanage. He was found guilty of the sexual abuse of four female children there.
Jurídico Social, the human rights law firm that represented the nine victims in the case, said it would “go down as a historical day in the development of the Timor-Leste judicial sector”.
However, while Daschbach may well die in jail given his age, the victims' lawyers protested that the sentence failed “to reflect the gravity of the case and the actual practice of courts”.
The trial had been an enormously polarising issue in a country that is almost entirely Catholic.
While the disgraced ex-priest admitted his guilt – including in a letter revealed by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in June – he retained support, most controversially from former president and independence hero Xanana Gusmao.
Daschbach, who was admired for his role in the country’s independence movement, was removed by the Vatican when the allegations against him surfaced.
‘Horrendous crimes’: East Timor priest jailed for 12 years for child sex abuse (By Chris Barrett, The Age)