The year in crime and justice

Malta Today

Daniel Mizzi / Matthew Agius 31 December 2014 …

A year of sex scandals by the clergy

Sex scandals dogged the Maltese diocese throughout 2014. The Catholic Church, still bearing scars from a slew of clerical sex abuse cases as well as the humbling experience that was the 2011 divorce referendum, was forced to undergo further humiliation in the form of two clerical sex abuse scandals this year.

In August the Church was at the centre of controversy after Gozitan priest Fr Jesmond Gauci, was charged with defiling three young Gozitan girls. The charges were kept under wraps after a Gozo court decreed that the case be heard behind closed doors, imposing a ban on the publication of the accused’s identity.

In what was described as an “unheard of” decision, Fr Gauci was granted bail before the victim’s testimony was heard, prompting an appeal by both the police and the Attorney General. A month later, the court ordered that bail be revoked until witnesses testify and lifted the ban on publication of the accused’s name. The case continues.

Then, in late October, the church was once again at the centre of a sexual abuse inquiry after allegations began to surface that Kerygma director Fr Charles Fenech OP was to be accused of sexually abusing a vulnerable woman, forcing Archbishop emeritus Paul Cremona to deny allegations that the Curia had attempted to buy the woman’s silence. The case, which is being heard behind closed doors, will continue in the new year.

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