East Timor: Defrocked priest’s trial must be swift – NGO

Macau Business Media

July 9, 2021

An East Timorese NGO has called for more respect and support for victims of sexual abuse in the country, calling for a speedy trial of a defrocked priest accused of sexually abusing several children over a period of years.

“Sexual violations against women and girls are serious crimes, and everyone must unite to oppose these acts. Activists, journalists, the state, human rights institutions and our entire population need to act more purposefully to fight for the physical safety, privacy and freedom of women and girls,” said La’o Hamutuk, a Timorese non-governmental organisation (NGO).

In a statement sent to Lusa La’o Hamutuk welcomes the fact that Daschbach’s trial is finally taking place, expressing concern over repeated postponements in the process and by “political pressure from important people and comments on social media that could increase the psychological suffering of the victims”.

“These trends can set a bad example for other victims in the future, or make victims afraid to report cases to the authorities,” the organisation believes.

The statement came in the week that Richard Daschbach’s trial resumed in Oecusse Court, after several postponements, with the presence of the accused and the testimonies of the first victims.

Richard Daschbach, 84, is on trial for the crimes of child abuse, child pornography and domestic violence allegedly committed over the years at the Topu Honis orphanage in Oecusse.

Daschbach was expelled from the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) congregation in East Timor and from the priesthood by the Vatican for “committed and admitted child abuse,” with the decision being based on a detailed investigation, including his oral and written confession.

La’o Hamutuk praises the “courage of the victims who spoke the truth in a challenging situation” and also “the courage of activists and journalists who courageously shone a light on the sexual violations committed by former Father Richard Daschbach against several young girls in the Topu Honis orphanage”.

A struggle, it said, that has been made more difficult because “some people try to intervene, speculate or protect the perpetrator”.