A year ago Tony Hamilton received the disturbing news that the priest he once trusted and respected, was accused ofsexually abusing girls in the shelter in Timor-Leste that the Australian entrepreneur had generously su
How different were things back in 2014 when Hamilton first contacted Dasch
Hamilton and his wife decided to support the shelter with 250 AUD$ per month. A year later, in April 2015, the couplevisited Topu Honis. When they saw the food problems, theyincreased their monthly donation to 1000 AUD$. In 2017,when Topu Honis no longer received free rice, the amount went up to 2000 AUD$. ‘There was a degree of governance. Daschbach reported every six months over finance. We were comfortable with that,’ he says. Apart from the regular contributions, the couple dona
Apart from donations to the shelter, supporters like Hamilton also gave money for individual scholarships so children from Topu Honis could pursue post-secondary education (2000 US$ a year). Foreign volunteers also helped by workingtemporarily at the shelter. Several children were, after lengthy court processes, officially adopted by foreigners, such as anAustralian policewoman who adopted a young girl from Kutet.
‘He was a great humanitarian and a great communicator,’ says Hamilton about Daschbach. ‘I respected and liked him a lot. But I never suspected that he was a paedophile,’ he adds with a choked voice.
In March 2018 Hamilton received a phone call from anotherTopu Honis supporter that the congregation Societas
After initially denying the abuse to the current director of Topu Honis, Lili Tarung, Daschbach also admitted his crimes to her. ‘He said that he had molested girls in Kutet and that he always had done it,’ says Hamilton. After hearing those words,the Australian sponsor couldn’t take it anymore. ‘Honestly, I was disturbed, to put it mildly. I could not deal with the conversation and left.’ He returned some 20 minutes later.‘Then I said to him: “Richard: you are evil.” And he replied: “Yes I am”.’
Over the years some 600 children stayed in Topu Honis. Hamilton fears of what happened to young girls who lived in the orphanage in Kutet. ‘He abused three generations of children,’ states Hamilton. ‘Trust has been destroyed.’
(Tempo Timor contacted Daschbach for comment, but was unable to reach him.)
Hamilton doesn’t know how far the Timorese prosecutor and police are with their investigations, but he points out that last year sponsors of Topu Honis in Australia informed the Australian Federal Police about the case. In the meantime Hamilton has asked his lawyer to take his statement about the confessions Daschbach made to him, for use as evidence in a future legal case. The affidavit will be sent this week to the court in East Timor. If necessary, Hamilton will testify against the priest.
Last June Hamilton and his wife went to Topu Honis to see how they could help. ‘The staff and children are wonderful. It was great.’ At that time Daschbach was still grounded in Dili being investigated by the church. But in August the priest suddenly resigned from the con
Hamilton says SVD and the Catholic Church acted swiftly after the allegations against Daschbach in 2018, starting their own investigations and penal process, and taking him to the police. ‘But I am disappointed about their complete lack of empathy. There are no signs that they are prepared to support that community in Oecusse, while that’s where it should go,’the Australian sponsor states.
He doesn’t understand why the Timorese authorities allow Daschbach to walk free in Oecusse while as a foreigner he isjust ‘a guest’ of Timor-Leste. ‘Believe me, I have contacted every possible figure to get this guy removed from his community,’ says Hamilton.
Foreign donors like Hamilton are continuing to pay for individual scholarships for ch