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AFP
June 11, 2021

American ex-priest faces East Timor child sex-abuse trial

AFP
June 11, 2021

DILI, East Timor: A defrocked American priest accused of molesting girls for years at an East Timor shelter has gone on trial in a case that split the overwhelmingly Catholic country.

Richard Daschbach, 84, faces sexual abuse, child pornography and domestic violence charges and could be jailed for up to 20 years if convicted of crimes linked to an orphanage he founded in the early 1990s.

The case has sharply divided the Southeast Asian nation, where Daschbach was once revered for providing food, clothing and housing for hundreds of orphans and impoverished children. After several postponements, the hearings started on Wednesday with Daschbach taking part via videolink from Dili.

But on Thursday the trial was adjourned again until early July at the request of the defence, which invoked technical problems. At least 15 women expected to testify have come forward so far to report they were abused as children, with fears that many more were molested at Daschbach’s Topu Honis Shelter in the enclave of Oecusse. The church is a powerful and respected institution in East Timor, where around 97 percent of its people are Catholic.