Singapore: Richard Daschbach, the defrocked American priest whose child sex abuse trial has shaken deeply Catholic East Timor, has been found guilty and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The 84-year-old learnt his fate on Tuesday in the District Court of Oecusse, the western enclave of the country where the abuse was committed 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.
On Tuesday, 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”.
“The history written today is a bitter history for the entire nation. Our children were subjected to horrendous crimes for such a long time because we, as a society, were blinded by the belief that a figure as the defendant in this case would not commit such crimes against children,” Jurídico Social said in statement.
“We invite the entire society to learn from this case, and do everything we can to ensure that such terrible crimes are not repeated in the future.
“By far, this case is the biggest case of sexual violence registered in the courts of Timor-Leste, considering the number of victims involved and the length of time during which the crimes were committed.”
However, while Daschbach may well die in jail, given his age, the victims lawyers protested that the sentence “fails to reflect the gravity of the case and the actual practice of courts”.