Priest Airs Side to Cardinal

Sun.Star [Philippines]
February 12, 2006

THE Cebu Archdiocese is ready to investigate a rape charge against a parish priest as part of its internal protocol, especially after the case became "much-publicized."

But Msgr. Achilles Dakay, archdiocesan media liaison officer, admitted, "The damage has been done."

Even if the priest is cleared of the charges, his reputation has already been tainted, and the Cebu Archdiocese has been tarnished as well, Dakay said.

He is dismayed that the priest accused of raping an 18-year-old woman was not given the same protection as the woman.

"Why was the woman's identity withheld, but the priest's was published?" Dakay asked.

He said the priest should be treated the same way as the woman, considering that the facts have not been established yet.

"To what do I react? To what she (alleged victim) said? To what the lawyers said? To what the papers published? There are no facts yet," Dakay told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday.

The 18-year-old woman from a city in northern Cebu filed a rape complaint against a parish priest last Friday.

In her counter-affidavit, she said the 36-year-old priest raped her three times since July 2005.

Last July 22, the woman said the priest called her to his room and started kissing and hugging her. She was also allegedly threatened with a gun if she did not sleep with him.

Last Christmas, she was allegedly raped again after attending a celebration at the convent.

Then last Jan. 28, for the third time, she was raped when she went to the convent to ask for money from the priest for a school project.

The priest is paying for the woman's college education.

Dakay, however, questioned why the woman continued to visit the convent.

The priest, Dakay said, met with Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal last Friday night, after the case was filed against him.

In a radio interview, the priest's assistant said the priest will answer the allegations against him only after he talks with his lawyer.

Dakay also said that the Cebu Archdiocese was keen on providing the priest a lawyer, not to protect him, but to help uncover the truth.

The priest's assistant doubts the motive of the filing of the case against the parish priest, especially since it was immediately leaked to the media.

There is also speculation that the complaint was politically motivated, because the priest discusses his objections to some government projects in his homilies. (JGA)


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