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Tempotimor (Dili)-Jornalista The Oekusi Post (TOP), Raimundos Oki, presta deklarasaun iha Polísia Sentifíka Invistigasaun Kriminál (PSIK) ba kazu violasaun segredu justisa relasiona ho kazu visum obrigatóriu hasoru labarik sira iha Topu Honis ne’ebé publika iha mídia Online The Oekisi Post.

 

Tempotimor (Dili)-Organizasaun Timor-Leste Press Union (TLPU) konsidera Tribunál Distritál Dili (TDD) tama sala kuartu, tanba notifika eis-Diretór Midia Online Tempo Timor (TT), José António Belo ‘Taraleu’ ho Jornalista Ajénsia Notisioza Portugues (LUSA), António Sampaio sai sasin ba kazu Públikasaun Relatóriu Komisaun Justisa no Paz (KJP).

Tempotimor (Dili)-Prokuradór Jerál Repúblika (PJR), Alfonso Lopes informa, tribunál dadaun ne’e kontinua akompaña no rona sasin audisionál ba eis padre RD.

Tempotimor (Roma)-Iha Timor-Leste julgamentu ba RJD la’o daudaun. Nia hetan akuzasaun ba hahalok abuzu seksuál hasoru labarik feto sira, pornografia infantil no violénsia doméstika, ne’ebé alegadamente nia pratika bainhira nia sei nu’udar amu. Vatikanu no ninia kongregasaun anteriór Kongregasaun Verbo Divino (SVD) julga tiha ona nia, foti desizaun katak nia kulpadu no fó kastigu ba nia. Iha entrevista ida ne’e, amu Jose Nicolas Espinosa, Sekretáriu-Jerál no porta-vóz SDV nian iha Roma, esplika oinsá autoridade katólika sira hasoru kazu ida ne’e.

  1. Iha Vatikanu, iha Roma, Kongregasaun ba Doutrina Fé nian mak iha kbiit atu superviziona investigasaun kontra kleru nia membru sira ne’ebé hetan akuzasaun kona-bá krime ruma. Vatikanu konsidera RJD nu’udar kulpadu?

“Loos. Iha loron 6 Novembru 2018, Vatikanu nia Kongregasaun ba Doutrina Fé nian (CDF) konsidera RJD nu’udar kulpadu ba krime aat loos mak abuzu menór sira iha Orfanatu Topu Honis,” hatete amu Jose Nicolas Espinosa, Sekretáriu-Jerál SVD nian iha Roma.

  1. Daschbach hetan kastigu husi Vatikanu?

Vatikanu “autoriza Superior Jerál SVD nian atu fo pena perpétua ba RJD, no hasai nia husi SVD no husi estadu klérikal. Pena ida ne’e nu’udar irreversível no autoridade Igreja nian sei la altera pena ne’e.”

  1. Sá konsekuénsia mak hamosu husi kastigu ida ne’e?

“Hasai RJD husi moris relijiozu, katak nia la sai ona membru SVD nian. Nomos hasai RJD husi estadu klerikal, katak nia labele selebra ona missa ka halao kualkér aksaun ne’ebé iha relasaun ho saserdósiu.”

  1. Sá medida mak SVD foti kontra RJD?

Marsu-Abril 2018:

Hasai RJD husi orfanatu Topu Honis.

  • Hahú prosesu investigasaun kontra RJD.
  • Iha loron 5 Marsu 2018, akontese konferénsia liuhusi telefone entre SVD iha Dili no ida iha Roma, durante konferénsia ida ne’e RJD admite ba akuzasaun ne’ebé iha hodi hatete: “Ida ne’e 100% lo’os.”
  • Medida preventiva sira hodi evita hamosu tan violasaun grave ba lei, hanesan obriga RJD atu lalika kontaktu ho vítima sira.
  • Superior Rejionál SVD nian iha Timor-Leste The SVD Regional Superior in Timor Leste hetan pedidu atu informa ba Bispu Dioseze Dili nian no Núnsiu Apostóliku kona-bá akuzasaun kontra señor
  • Superior Rejionál SVD nian hetan instrusaun atu halo denúnsia kazu ne’e ba autoridade sivil, maibe labele hatete sai vítima sira nia naran, karik señor RJD lakoi halo rasik denúnsia.
  • SVD informa kazu ne’e ba Kongregasaun ba Doutrina Fé nian (CDF) iha Vatikanu.

Abril 2018

  • Aumenta tan restrisaun ba RJD.

Maiu 2018

  • Superior SVD nian iha Timor-Leste informa ba Superir Jerál SVD nian iha Roma katak RJD nia kazu lori tiha ona ba Servisu Investigasaun Kriminál (CIS) Timor-Leste nian.
  • Superior Jerál SVD nian iha Roma husu ba SVD iha Timor-Leste atu koopera ho Servisu Investigasaun Kriminál se karik sira presiza informasaun tan.

Jullu-Setembru 2018

  • Durante fulan hirak ne’e SVD halao prosesu investigasaun ba señor Richard Daschbach, tuir pedidu husi Kongregasaun ba Doutrina Fé nian iha Vatikanu.

Outubru 2018

  • Konsellu Jerál SVD nian hatan, iha loron 12 Outubru 2018, katak faktu ne’ebé aprezenta kona-bá krime sira ne’ebé Daschbach halo sai nu’udar prova ba krime grave nomos ba violasaun bebeik ba votu kastidade nian no, nune’e, sai nu’udar kauza ba hasai obrigatoriamente. Foti desizaun atu hasai amu Daschbach husi Kongregasaun Verbo Divino.
  • Superior Jerál haruka dokumentu ba Kongregasaun ba Doutrina Fé nian (CDF) iha Vatikanu kona-bá Richard Daschbach nia kazu no husu: atu konfirma Dekretu ba Espulsaun ba RJD husi SVD; no atu autoriza Superior Jerál SVD nian atu emite Dekretu ba Espulsaun ba RJD husi estadu klerikal.

Novembru 2018

  • Iha loron 6 Novembru 2018, CDF halo konfirmasaun ba Dekretu ba Espulsaun ba RJD husi SVD, no autoriza Superior Jerál atu emite dekretu ba expulsaun ba RJD husi estadu klerikal.
  • Iha loron 16 Novembru 2018, Superior Jerál emite Dekretu ba Espulsaun ba RJD husi estadu klerikal.
  • Iha loron 30 Novembru 2018 Richard RJD simu no asina katak nia simu Dekretu Espulsaun rua ne’e.

Fevereiru 2019

  • Surat, asina husi Bispo nain rua no Superior Rejionál SVD nian iha Timor-Leste, ba Dioseze nia ema sira, hodi informa ba sira kona-bá razaun sira ne’ebé tansá hasai RJD husi Kongreasaun Verbo Divino no husi estadu klerikal.

Novembru 2019

  • Señor RJD la hela ona iha SVD nia uma tanba fallansu husi autoridade sivil sira atu tau matan ba RJD no vizita sira durante tempu RJD hela iha uma SVD nian iha Maliana.

Setembru 2020- Juñu 2021

  • Kolaborasaun ho autoridade sivil no igreja no ONG sira atu investiga kazu ne’e.
  1. Ita hakfodak ho kazu ne’e?

Loos. Notísia kona-bá RJD halo abuzu seksuál ba menór sira halo SVD hakfodak, liliu tanba nia halo traisaun ba vítima sira nia fiar, doadór sira no Superior SVD sira. Sai kazu bo’ot tanba publisidade ne’ebé kazu hetan. Maibe, hahú husi primeiru, SVD kaer kazu ne’e tuir Igreja nia protokolu ba asuntu abuzu seksuál. Hasai nia husi kongregasaun no husi estadu klerikal hatudu katak SVD foti aksaun lalais no adekuadu hodi garante pena ekleziástika ba señor RJD.

  1. Oinsá ita nia resposta ba ema iha Timor-Leste ne’ebé ko'alia sai katak akuzasaun kontra RJD nu’udar falsu no katak nia nu’udar vítima ba konspirasaun?

“Prosesu investigasaun kontra señor RJD, ne’ebé inklui mos ninia auto‑denúnsia, hatudu katak akuzasaun ba abuzu seksuál ba menór sira ne’e lo’os.”

  1. Oinsá ita nia reasaun ba ema balun nia alegasaun katak amu lokal SVD nian akuza RJD hodi bele hetan rai no osan husi Topu Honis?

“Topu Honis nia rai no osan pertense ba Topu Honis. Nune’e, SVD labele, liuhusi meius saida de’it, hetan Topu Honis nia rai no osan.”

  1. Oinsá ita nia haree kona-bá julgamentu ne’ebé lao daudaun iha Timor-Leste?

“SVD hateten dala ida tan katak husi primeiru, ami nia kongregasaun kondena tebes señor RJD nia krime aat sira. SVD sempre hamutuk ho vítima sira. Ami koko atu konvida ema hotu-hotu ne’ebé iha vontade di’ak atu servisu hamutuk hodi rezolve kazu ho maneira onestu, ekitativu no justu. Ami hein ho pozitividade katak vítima sira bele hetan posibilidade atu kura no rekupera psikolojikamente no espiritualmente.”

  1. Saida mai ita hakarak hatete ba vítima sira?

“Saida mak akontese ba imi halo SVD triste tebes. Ita hotu hola parte iha moris relijiozu tanba ita hotu sente xamamentu divinu. Ita hotu unjidu no haruka ita hotu atu lori notísia di’ak ba ema kbi'it la'ek sira no liliu atu ba kore sira ne’ebé kanek. Nune’e, abuzu seksuál ne’ebé RJD halo kontra imi nu’udar violasaun husi ema ida ne’ebé imi fiar nu’udar labarik no husi nia imi hanoin atu hetan mak matadalan no ezemplu. SVD hakarak haforsa katak kongregasaun preukupa ho imi, vítima ba abuzu seksuál husi señor RJD. Ho laran tomak, ami fo’o ami nia esforsu atu ajuda imi, vítima sira.”

  1. Saida mai ita hakarak hatete ba povu Timor-Leste?

“Ami konxiente katak triste tebes atu simu katak ema ida ne’ebé respeitadu no admiradu hanesan RJD bele halo krime aat ida mak abuzu seksuál ba menór no halo traisaun ba ema ne’ebé nia mak haree, nia benfeitór sira no SVD. Ami fiar katak atu ajuda vítima sira nia kanek no atu prevene krime hanesan, nesesáriu, iha kazu ida ne’e, julgamentu ida ekitativu no justu. Ami husu ba povu Timor-Leste atu ajuda autoridade sivil sira iha prosesu judisiál kontra RJD", (*)

Tempotimor (Roma)-In Timor-Leste the trial is taking place against RJD. He is charged with sexual abuse of girls, child pornography and domestic violence, which he allegedly committed when he was still a priest. The Vatican and his former congregation Society of the Divine Word (SVD) already found him guilty and punished him. In this interview father Jose Nicolas Espinosa, Secretary General and spokesperson of the SVD in Rome, explains how the Catholic authorities dealt with this case.

  1. At the Vatican in Rome it is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which has the task to oversee investigations against clergy members accused of crimes. Has the Vatican found RJD guilty?

‘Yes. On 6 November 2018 the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) found RJD guilty of the heinous crime of abusing minors in the Topu Honis Shelter,’ says Father Jose Nicolas Espinosa, Secretary General of the SVD in Rome.

  1. Was RJD punished by the Vatican?

The Vatican ‘authorized the Superior General of the SVD to impose a perpetual penalty on RJD, being dismissed from the SVD and from the clerical state. This penalty is irreversible, and the Church authorities will not change it.’  

  1. What is the consequence of this punishment?

‘RJD is expelled from religious life, which means that he is no longer a member of the SVD. RJD is also expelled from the clerical state, which means that he cannot celebrate Mass or perform any action related to the priesthood.’

  1. What measures did the SVD take against RJD?

March-April 2018:

  • Removal of RJD from the orphanage Topu Honis Shelter.
  • Start of the investigation process against RJD.
  • On 5 March 2018 there was a phone conference between the SVD in Dili and Rome, during which RJD admitted the accusations saying: ‘This is 100% true.’
  • Preventive measures to avert further serious transgressions of the law, such as obliging RJD to refrain from contacting the victims.
  • The SVD Regional Superior in Timor Leste was asked to inform the Bishop of the Dili Diocese and the Apostolic Nuntio about the accusations against Mr. RJD.
  • The SVD Regional Superior was instructed to report the case to the civil authorities without making known the victims’ names, in case Mr. RJD refused to denounce himself.
  • The SVD reported the case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) at the Vatican.

April 2018

  • Further restrictions were imposed on RJD.

May 2018

  • The SVD’s Superior in Timor-Leste informed the SVD Superior General in Rome that RJD case was reported to the Criminal Investigation Service (CIS) of Timor-Leste.
  • The SVD Superior General in Rome asked the SVD in Timor-Leste to cooperate with the Criminal Investigation Service if they needed further information.

July-September 2018

  • During these months the SVD’s process to investigate Mr. RJD took place, as was requested by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith at the Vatican.

October 2018

  • SVD’s General Council agreed on 12 October 2018 that the presented facts concerning the crimes committed by RJD constitute proof of a serious crime as well as the repeated legal violation of the vow of chastity and, therefore, are a cause for compulsory dismissal. It was decided that Fr. RJD be dismissed from the Society of the Divine Word.’
  • The Superior General sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) at the Vatican the documentation regarding RJD case and requested: to confirm the Decree of Dismissal of RJD from the SVD; and to authorize the SVD’s Superior General to issue the Decree of Dismissal of RJD from the clerical state.

November 2018

  • On 6 November 2018, the CDF confirmed the Decree of Dismissal of RJD from the SVD, and authorized the Superior General to issue a decree of dismissal of RJD from the clerical state.
  • On 16 November 2018, the Superior General issued the Decree of Dismissal of RJD from the clerical state.
  • On 30 November 2018 RJD accepted and signed the receipt of both Dismissal Decrees.

February 2019

  • Letter, signed by both the Bishop and the SVD Regional Superior in Timor Leste, addressed to the people of the Diocese, informing them about the reasons for which RJD was dismissed from the Society of the Divine Word and the clerical state.

November 2019

  • RJD was not accommodated anymore in any SVD house because of the failure of the civil authorities to monitor RJD and his visitors during the period of his stay in the SVD house in Maliana.

September 2020- June 2021

  • Collaboration with civil and church authorities and NGOs to investigate the case.
  1. Were you shocked by the case?

Yes. The news of RJD sexual abuse of minors came as a shock to the SVD, mainly because he betrayed the victims’ trust, the donors and the SVD Superiors. It has become a significant case due to the publicity it has acquired. But since the start, the SVD has handled the case following the Church's protocol on issues of sexual abuse. His dismissal from the congregation and the clerical state proves that the SVD acted fast and adequately to ensure the ecclesiastical penalty for Mr. Daschbach.

  1. What’s your response to the people in Timor-Leste who say that the accusations against RJD are false and that he is the victim of a conspiracy?

‘The investigation process against Mr. RJD, which included his self-denunciation, proved that the accusations of sexual abuse of minors were true.’

  1. What’s your reaction to the claim of some people that the local SVD priests are accusing RJD just to get the land and the money of Topu Honis?

‘Topu Honis’ land and money belong to Topu Honis. Therefore, the SVD cannot by any means get hold of the land and the money of Topu Honis.’

  1. What’s your view on the current trial in Timor-Leste?

‘The SVD reiterates that from the very beginning, our congregation has strongly condemned the heinous crimes of Mr. RJD. The SVD has always stood by the victims. We have tried to invite all persons of goodwill to work together to resolve the case honestly, fairly, and justly. We are looking forward with much positivity to rendering possible psychological and spiritual healing and recovery of the victims.

  1. What would you like to say to the victims?

‘What happened to you saddens the SVD deeply. We all joined religious life because we felt a divine call. We were anointed and sent to bring good tidings to the poor and especially to set at liberty those bruised. Therefore, RJD sexual abuse of you is a violation by a person you trusted as children and from whom we expected guidance and example. The SVD wants to stress that the congregation cares for you, the victims of the sexual abuse perpetrated by Mr. RJD. We are committed to our efforts in assisting you, the victims.’

  1. What would you like to say to the people of Timor-Leste?

‘We are aware of how sad it is to know that a well-respected and admired person like RJD could commit the heinous crime of sexual abuse of minors and betray the trust of the persons he was taking care of, his benefactors and the SVD. We believe that to help heal the victims’ wounds and to prevent similar crimes, a fair and just trial, in this case, is necessary. We ask the people of Timor-Leste to support the civil authorities in the legal process against RJD". (*)

Tempotimor (Dili)- Eis Prezidente Repúblika, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão deklara prontu atu defende eis Padre RD ne’ebé akuzadu komete abuzu seksuál ka pedofilia no pornografia hasoru minor idade iha Topu Honis Kutete Rejiaun Administrativa Espesiál Oekusi Ambenu (RAEOA).

Tempotimor (Dili)-Gabinete Kombate Korupsaun no Kriminalidade Organizada (GKKKO) iha Ministériu Públiku (MP) finaliza ona akuzasaun kontra 'padre' ida ho inisiál RD ne’ebé deskonfia komete abuzu seksual hasoru labarik kiik.

Is the prosecutor brave enough to prosecute church commission?

Tempotimor (Dili) - The Catholic Church in Timor-Leste is interfering with the course of justice in the case against ex-priest R.D., who is being investigated by the office of the prosecutor for allegedlysexually abusing girls in the shelter he was running in the country’s enclave Oecusse. Last week the Justice and Peace Commission, which falls under the Metropolitan Archdiocese, distributed a report criticizing the prosecutor’s criminal investigations and disclosing the names of potential victims,witnesses and the suspect himself.

Breaking the law

‘The commission is violating the penal code,’ lawyer Manuel Tilman told Tempo Timor. While the prosecutor is investigating a case, the information that is gathered such as the identity of victims, witnesses, the suspect and their statements are confidential and may not be published.

The lawyer says that the church’s commission can be prosecuted for breaking the law by releasing the names. ‘Now it depends on the public prosecutor whether he is brave enough to start to prosecute the Justice and Peacecommission, Tilman said.

Sharp criticism

On 27 August a team of the commission went to the enclave of Oecusse, where Topu Honis shelter for orphans and vulnerable people is located. The report explains how the team spoke to young girls, who are potential victims and witnesses in the criminal case of the prosecutors, as well as parents. Their names and identities, as well as those of the suspect, are disclosed in the report. The commission also spoke to lawyers, the Commissioner for the Rights of the Child and the police.

In the report the police and prosecution are said to have intimidated the girls during their investigations into the alleged sexual abuse. NGO’s supporting victims and doctors are also criticized. The report states that the commission had problems in getting information about the whereabouts of several girls. The commission concludes that the NGO’s work closely together in this case and accuses them of ‘organised crime’, ‘exploitation of underage girls’, ‘human trafficking’ and being a ‘justice-mafia.’

However, the steps of the commission are in sharp contrast to the Vatican’s decisions and contradict the earlier position of high-level church officials in Timor-Leste itself.

Who is R.D.?

R.D. is an American ex-priest originally from Pittsburg, USA, belonging to the congregation Societas Verbi Divini (SVD, Society of the Divine Word). He arrived in 1966 on the islandof Timor. In the early nineties he established Topu HonisShelter Home in Oecusse. The centre was described on its website as ‘a safe haven’ for orphans, children ‘from extremely poor homes, disabled adults, and women fleeing abuse.’ Over the years it ‘served more than 600 children and adults in the area,’ stated the website, before it was taken down.

Confessions

Behind the scenes however, there was another reality. Early March 2018 the SVD received information with allegations that R.D. had sexually abused girls in the Topu Honisorphanage in the small mountain hamlet of Kutet. During a phone conversation with SVD’s superior general in Rome, R.D. admitted his crimes. Father Yohanes Suban Gapun, SVD’s regional superior based in Timor-Leste, sat nearby the accused priest when he made his confessions. ‘It is 100 percent true,’ Gapun heard R.D. saying. ‘He repeated that four times, Gapun told Tempo Timor in an earlier interview.

The Vatican

In November 2018 R.D. was defrocked after the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) had investigated the allegations, concluded the priest was guilty of sexually abusing minors, and decreed his official dismissal.On 30 November 2018 R.D. signed the document accepting the Vatican’s decision.

He is not considered a priest anymore. He accepted the accusation, and signed the letter with the accusation about the wrong, misleading behaviour that he committed,’ Father Jovito Rêgo de Jesus Araújo, episcopal vicar for pastoral care of the diocese of Dili, told Tempo Timor in an interview in January 2019. ‘He committed a crime,’ father Jovito added.‘He needs to be arrested.

Celebrating mass

Meanwhile R.D. was still living freely in Oecusse. On 30 December 2018, a month after R.D. was defrocked, Fr. Jovitowent to Kutet to prevent the ex-priest from performing mass. ‘But when I arrived he had celebrated [mass] already. I was mad, because he already got the letter from the Diocese that he was not allowed to celebrate [mass]. I told the people: if you want to help him, better not to come to his celebrations.’

Wire fraud

The church, however, mainly kept quiet about the case. When R.D. was arrested for the first time in April 2019, he wasaccommodated in a SVD-residence under an informal house arrest arrangement. In November 2019 R.D. escaped to Oecusse, but was captured by the police when he arrived by ferry. A month later, in December, the court sent him to prison. Six months later R.D. was released from jail and put under house arrest. However, in July the defrocked priest briefly disappeared, violating his house arrest rules, but then resurfaced again. While the public prosecutor is investigating R.D. for allegedly sexually abusing young Timorese girls, the former priest is also wanted by the USA government for wire fraud.

 

Tempo Timor (Dili) - The SVD procurator general is currently visiting Timor-Leste to support victims of ex-priest R.D., who sexually abused children in his orphanage in Oecusse. Father Peter Dikos is positive about the growing openness in the society, but disappointed with the criminal justice system in this case for being slow, not responsive and breaking promises.

‘We never had a case of this scale in our history,’ tells priest Peter Dikos, the procurator general of Societas Verbi Divini (SVD) in Rome. In March 2018 the congregation received a complaint against R.D., accusing the SVD priest of sexually abusing young children in his shelter Topu Honis in Kutet, Oecussi. ‘From what we know so far, it was systematic abuse of girls on a daily basis. It had been going on for years and years,’ says father Dikos in an interview with Tempo Timor during his visit in Timor-Leste. As SVD procurator general Dikos investigates cases of sexual abuse by members of his congregation.

Confession

Father Dikos doesn’t doubt that R.D., who originally is an American, committed sexual crimes against Timorese children. During a conference call last year between SVD’s superiors of the generalate in Rome and the regional office in Dili, he heard the priest confessing that he sexually abused minors. When the accusations were read to him, R.D. reacted with the words: ‘It’s 100 percent true.’ In November 2018 the priest was dismissed as a member from the SVD and from the clerical status.

Disappointed

While the church punished the ex-priest already a year ago, Dikos notices that the Timorese authorities have been slow, not responsive and breaking promises. ‘From the very beginning it was quite a challenge’ to deal with the police, he says. The SVD took the accused confrere R.D. twice to the police and requested a document confirming they reported the suspect to the authorities. ‘The police promised to send us a written document showing we reported the case. But after many attempts, up till now, we haven’t received any proof,’ Dikos says.

He is ‘a little bit disappointed’ in the criminal justice system. ‘I would have expected that the confrere would have been detained. But that did not happen,’ states Dikos. And although SVD’s superiors heard R.D. confessing to his crimes, they were never called by the prosecution to give evidence or a statement. Dikos notes that proceedings take very long. ‘I would expect the judicial system to be more pro-active’ and that the case would have concluded long ago. ‘For me it is a big surprise that a case about such a serious crime, drags on,’ he says.

Maliana

Last April R.D. was finally arrested by the Timor-Leste’s police, but not detained. Before the arrest, the prosecutor general of the republic (PGR) called the bishop of Dili to ask whether the ex-priest, who is now 82 years old but in good health, could stay on humanitarian grounds under house-arrest in the SVD residence in Maliana. The congregation accepted the arrangement, but with conditions. ‘We told the PGR: we accept him if we get a request in writing,’ Dikos explains. Other conditions were that the civil authorities had to provide security and make sure that the ex-confrere didn’t have any contact with potential victims or witnesses. ‘But nothing has been fulfilled,’ says Dikos.

Suddenly on 12 November the ex-priest decided to leave Maliana and took the ferry to Oecusse. Behind the scenes professionals, individuals and SVD worked frantically to inform the police and prosecution in Timor-Leste. When R.D. arrived in Oecusse, he was arrested and taken to the police station. Then the court decided that the ex-priest had to be returned to the SVD residence in Maliana. Last week the police took him on the ferry from Oecusse to Dili. But the SVD refused to host him in Maliana after their negative experiences with the civil authorities not fulfilling their promises to provide security and control R.D.’s movements. ‘Where our ex-confrere is now, I wouldn’t know,’ says Dikos. (Sources told Tempo Timor that he is in Academia Policia in Dili).

Openness

But about his visit to Timor-Leste Dikos is very positive. He met with the first lady and her cabinet. ‘I saw a great openness from their side,’ he said. The minister for social services is ready to help to regulate the status of Topu Honis so the shelter can continue to support children in need in Oecusse. Currently the institute, which was a private project by R.D., is run by his confidante Lily Tarung who has obstructed SVD’s efforts to get in touch with the staff and potential victims. An earlier attempt by the SVD to visit Topu Honis failed as ‘the people and the potential victims disappeared from the place,’ Dikos tells. He also had a meeting with the minister of education discussing more in general to increase awareness among students about sexual abuse. Dikos praises Fokupers and JU,S Jurídico Social calling them the ‘engine’ pushing for support and justice for the victims of the sexual abuse by the ex-priest. Later this week he will have a meeting with the PGR as well.

Justice and mercy

‘I heard people in Timor-Leste saying: “We are Christians. We are Catholics. We should forgive.” That’s nice. But we can’t neglect justice. Justice and mercy go hand in hand,’ says Dikos. He calls on all parties – government, church, the criminal justice system, NGOs, lawyers and professionals – to cooperate in this case. ‘We are creating history for Timor-Leste, because this is the first case involving a priest accused of committing sexual abuse that is being dealt with on this level,’ he says.

Dikos is travelling to Oecusse to reach out to victims and to support Fokupers, JU,S, local SVD and other professionals so they can assist survivors in the process of healing and recovering. ‘Some victims might not understand what happened to them at the time. But as they grow up, they will realise it. If they don’t open up, it can be a horrible trauma for the rest of their lives,’ Dikos says. He believes that if everybody works together, ‘slowly but certainly’ there will be justice for victims. Dikos: ‘That will be a new beginning of their life.’

 

Tempo Timor (Maliana) - Former priest R.D., who is accused of child sexual abuse in the Topu Honis shelter in Oecusse, wants to be in prison. ‘He wants to give himself up to the police so they arrest him and put him in jail,’ father Lazarus Mau, the head of the SVD congregation in Maliana, told Tempo Timor.

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