Church slams state institutions and NGO’s investigating sexual abuse case

Archbishop Metropolitan Dili Virgilio do carmo Archbishop Metropolitan Dili Virgilio do carmo Photo Suply

Tempotimor (Dili) - The Catholic Church in Timor-Leste severely criticizes the state institutions and organisations that are officially participating in investigating the allegations against former priest R.D, who is accused of sexually abusing girls who were living under his care in the shelter he had set up for orphans and vulnerable persons.

The Justice and Peace Commission, which falls under the Metropolitan Archdiocese in Timor-Leste, accuses the police and prosecution of intimidation, while NGO’s that are an officially funded network specialised in supporting victims of gender based violence are accused of ‘organised crime’, ‘exploitation of girls’, ‘human trafficking’ and being a ‘justice-mafia.’

The Vatican defrocked R.D. in November 2018 when its Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) had investigated the allegations and found R.D. guilty of sexual abuse of minors. The accused priest himself also admitted to his crimes to his superiors. Currently R.D. is investigated by the office of the prosecutor in Timor-Leste.

Commission discloses names

On 19 August 2020 the Justice and Peace Commission received a delegation from Topu Honis Shelter Home, where the alleged sexual abuse of girls took place.

The Commission then formed a team, which left on 27 August for the western enclave of Oecusse, where the centre is located.

The team spoke to nineteen girls, who are potential victims and witnesses in the criminal case of the public prosecutor, as well as parents. Not only their names and identities are disclosed in the report, but also the name of the suspect, who is still referred to as ‘priest’ despite being defrocked.

The commission also spoke to lawyers, the Commissioner for the Rights of the Child and the police. On 7 September the commission completed its report, which is signed by its director, priest Herminio de Fátima Gonçalves.

‘Organised crime’

In the report the police and prosecution are accused of having intimidated the girls during their investigations into the alleged sexual abuse.

NGO’s that are specialised in supporting victims of gender based violence and doctors, are accused of forcing girls to undergo forensic medical examinations.

The report also says the commission had problems in getting confidential information about the whereabouts of several girls.

The commission says it found out that the victim’s groups work closely together and accuses them therefor of ‘organised crime’, as well as ‘exploitation of underage girls’, ‘human trafficking’ and being a ‘justice-mafia.’

The report states that the proceedings against R.D. have ‘the same modus operandi as the case of Cardinal Pell,’ the former financial controller of the Vatican, who was first found guilty of child sexual abuse but then acquitted this year in Australia.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 15 September 2020 06:28
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