The former priest who is under investigation for sexually abusing girls in an orphanage in Oecusse, has been arrested again. The suspect was under ‘house arrest’ in Maliana, but was spotted on the ferry ‘Success’ which left Dili harbour on Tuesday afternoon (12 November). When he arrived in Oecusse early Wednesday morning (13 November) the police was waiting for the ex-priest in the port, arrested him and took him to the police station in Oecusse. ‘I am acting on the orders of the PGR,’ confirmed Arnaldo de Araujo, the police commander in Oecusse to Tempo Timor by telephone, referring to the Prosecutor General of the Republic.

Tempo Timor (Bobonaro) - The bishop of Maliana apologizes to the victims who have been sexually abused by priests, nuns and fraters. With a team he works on a system so that people can report cases of child sex abuse by the clergy to the Church. Currently he knows of only one case in Timor-Leste.

On the slopes of a hill just outside the town of Maliana lies the large white villa where bishop Norberto do Amaral lives. It is sunny, hot and quiet. Until the two dogs start barking. The bishop opens the door of his residence and agrees to an interview with Tempo Timor. Quickly he walks down a small path that takes him through the weeds and bush. Some fifteen minutes later he sits in a large black chair in the parlour of the yellow coloured diocese with pillars and red roofs. In front is a small pond with water from which a statute of Jesus rises up. The brand new buildings, paid for by the government, have only been completed some five months ago.

Last February the bishop participated in the special summit at the Vatican, which was convened by the Pope. Bishops and church leaders gathered in Rome to discuss the avalanche of cases the Catholic Church is facing in a growing number of countries where children have been sexually abused by priests, bishops, cardinals, brothers, pastors and nuns - and how to prevent these atrocities. ‘As Catholic Church we have to combat this kind of crime,’ bishop Do Amaral tells Tempo Timor, adding that because of these crimes people are now saying ‘that the Church is like Lucifer.’ 

Procedure

In May the Pope issued a new law stating that the dioceses all over the world have to set up ‘public, stable and easily accessible systems’ to make it possible for people to report sexual abuse by clerics and religious, the use of child pornography, and cover-ups of these crimes. The new rules cover clerical abuse not only against children but also vulnerable adults, adult seminarians and novices. The Pope said that ‘the crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful.’

In Timor-Leste bishop Do Amaral is responsible for drafting the procedure which will enable people to report sexual abuse cases in the country to the Church. He explains that the Catholic Church has formed a team that discusses how the system in Timor-Leste should look like. ‘The procedure has to include how to deal with victims and how to take care of the suspect. The Pope gave us clear instructions to work closely with the courts with regard to these crimes,’ says Do Amaral. Soon he will report to the Vatican. ‘In December we will send our proposal to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for them to review. Then they will say what we have to do,’ Do Amaral explains. The system needs to be in place in June 2020. (See also: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-05/pope-francis-motu-proprio-sex-abuse-clergy-religious-church.html)

The bishop explains that the procedures will slightly differ in each country. ‘In Timor-Leste we touch, hug and caress. It means love to the children. In the USA, however, that is already considered sexual abuse. But that’s too much,’ he says. Countries like for instance Australia, Portugal or India can be an inspiration for Timor-Leste. ‘But we shouldn’t follow these people’s ass,’ states the bishop. The model has to fit the local circumstances. ‘We have our own laws, customs and rules,’ Do Amaral says.

Obligation

The Pope’s law also says that it is an obligation for all clerics – men and women – that if they are aware of sexual abuse against children, cover-ups by their superiors and mismanagement of investigations, they have to ‘report promptly’ to the Church authorities. The dioceses and congregations that are already investigating such cases have to update the Vatican regularly and have to complete their work within three months.

One case

When asked how many cases there are in Timor-Leste, bishop Do Amaral says: ‘There is only one case.’ He refers to the former priest R.D., an American who ran the shelter Topu Honis in the hamlet of Kutet in the enclave of Oecusse. In November 2018 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is responsible at the Vatican for handling these cases, found R.D. guilty of sexual crimes against minors and dismissed him as a priest. ‘The bishop of Dili told me: sometimes he confesses that he did it, but at other times he didn’t confess,’ says Do Amaral about the ex-priest who is now 82 years old, adding: ‘It might be because of his old age, that he sometimes forgets.’

But his victims can’t forget. The Timorese NGO Fokupers has published a statement of one of his victims, who describes the horrific abuse she was subjected to. The girl tells how she had to come in his bedroom where R.D. orally raped her. (See: https://fokupers.org/latest-news/2019/4/25/vtima-abuzu-seksul-iha-orfanatu-oecusse-konta-ninia-istria) According to sources the abuse at Topu Honis was systematic with R.D. allegedly sexually abusing every single young girl in the shelter at least once, molesting vulnerable children who were under his care for many years.

Last week Tony Hamilton, who is an Australian donor of Topu Honis, published an heartfelt open letter expressing his deepest sympathy to the staff, children and youth at the shelter. He tells how happy he always was to be able to visit and support them, but that until last year he didn’t know children were abused. Hamilton writes that in April 2018 he went to see R.D., who admitted twice to him personally that he had sexually molested young girls in Kutet ‘for a long time.’ Hamilton feels utterly betrayed by the ex-priest. He saw no other way than to stop sending money to the shelter, a normal procedure when an institution ‘does nothing to support and protect the children,’ Hamilton writes. If there is good new professional leadership and oversight, and the shelter is transformed so that the safety and wellbeing of the children and women is guaranteed, Hamilton will donate money again.

Arrest

At first, for a whole year, the prosecution in Timor-Leste didn’t investigate the allegations against the American ex-priest, until civil society pushed for it and the case drew international media attention. Last April the Timorese police arrested the former priest. Currently the prosecution is investigating the case, which is of high complexity as it allegedly relates to abuses spanning decades and involving a large number of children. R.D. has, however, not been put in prison, but stays in the residence of the SVD congregation in Maliana. ‘He can’t go around, because he is under house-arrest,’ states bishop Do Amaral. But a picture on Instagram shows R.D. in a corner in a restaurant in Maliana using a laptop, while the current director of Topu Honis, Ms. Liliana ‘Lily’ Tarung, is with him enjoying a beer.

The bishop says he is not aware that in 2014 also a frater, who was the director of the Dormitório do Lar O Bom Samaritano in Gleno, in the district of Ermera, was arrested and prosecuted. ‘Sorry, I don’t know. It is the first time I hear about this,’ says the bishop. A.B. was found guilty of sexually abusing five boys and is now serving a sentence of more than seven years in the prison of Becora, in Dili. Earlier this year there was an attempt to request a pardon for the frater. When the bishop hears that this year a request to pardon the convicted frater was submitted to President Francisco Guterres, popularly known as Lú-Olo, he says: ‘He shouldn’t get it because we have to wait until the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith finishes its work on the procedure.’

Message

Although the Catholic Church and SVD congregation did investigate the allegations against R.D. and punished him for his crimes by dismissing him as a priest, the Timorese Church leaders have been reluctant to give a full public account to the population about what happened in Oecusse and haven’t reached out to the victims there. Public statements have mostly been made in response to questions by journalists. Recently Fokupers asked the Archbishop in Dili in an open letter to support the victims of Topu Honis shelter and to visit them. So far the Archbishop hasn’t reacted to the call.

When asked what message the Maliana bishop has for victims of clerical sexual abuse in general, Do Amaral says: ‘The Church will always love you. We will not exclude you from the Church.’ He refers to the words of the Pope saying: ‘We apologize to them on behalf of those priests, nuns, or fraters who committed those crimes. We have to ask them forgiveness.’ The bishop stresses that the Church has to ‘make an effort to rehabilitate the victims. They need to get medical and psychological care for trauma healing and counselling.’

Australia and USA

It is striking that there seem to be just two cases in Timor-Leste. In 2017 the Australian academics Desmond Cahill and Peter Wilkinson (both are ordained priests who left the church in the 1970’s) published their international study about sexual child abuse by priests, brothers and nuns between 1955 and 2000. ‘We have only two countries where we have reliable statistics: Australia and the USA,’ writes Cahill in an email. The average figure for both countries is that 6 to 7 per cent of the parish priests (one in fifteen priests) committed sexual abuse against minors. The figure for religious order priests is lower in both countries. He calls the abuse figures for religious brothers ‘horrendous’, usually above 20 per cent.

Vulnerable children

Cahill and his colleague also looked at the circumstances that create a higher risk. ‘One key factor here is access to vulnerable children,’ Cahill explains. ‘A child was more likely to be abused sexually if it was a boy, especially an altar boy or choir boy, and most especially if you were in a Catholic residential care institution such as an orphanage run by priests or religious brothers,’ Cahill explained in his email. (As happened in the two cases that are publicly known in Timor-Leste). Explaining the potential danger, the Australian professor states: ‘It is well to remember that today the Catholic Church runs over 9000 residential care facilities for children, especially in India and Italy. Many are run by religious brothers rather than by nuns.’ (More information: https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/all-news/2017/sep/report-lifts-lid-on-catholic-church-and-child-sex-abuse)

Scandals worldwide

In general it takes a long time before cases come to light. ‘The major factor in the Church’s bishops covering the abuse up was protection of the Church’s reputation and its self-concept as an all-holy Church,’ writes Cahill. It makes it even harder for victims to tell what happened to them. ‘The Australian figures show that Catholic victims took on average 29 years to disclose’ the crimes committed against them, states Cahill.

In the last two decades a large number of church abuse scandals have been revealed in mainly North and South America, Australia and several European countries. The most prominent case has been the trial against the Australian cardinal George Pell, who had a top position at the Vatican. He has been found guilty of sexual abusing two choir boys and has been sentenced to six years in prison. Meanwhile, in a number of countries the Catholic Church has been paying compensation to victims.

‘I am new’

The bishop of Maliana, who has been in this position at this diocese since 2010, says he is not aware of more cases in Timor-Leste. ‘I only just became a bishop,’ he explains. ‘This diocese is new. This is not an old diocese. Even my people are also new. That’s why they don’t give me information. Because I am new, they don’t have the trust yet. Until today nobody came to report a sexual abuse case to me. So I can’t say anything, because I don’t know anything.’ He adds: ‘Maybe there are some cases, but they hide it.’

He is aware of the Pope’s order that the Church has to receive people who come to report. ‘But if they remain silent, how can we process those cases?’ he states.

‘But if people come to report a case, the diocese will find a way to process it, as this is an order from the Vatican,’ the bishop says. If there is enough evidence ‘I will report it to the police.’

The police in Timor-Leste has arrested today (Friday 26 April) former priest R.D. who has been accused of sexually abusing young girls in his orphanage in the country’s enclave Oecusse. He was brought before the judge, sources in Timor-Leste confirm. Last November the Vatican dismissed R.D. from his clergy status punishing him for the crimes he allegedly committed when he was a priest. It is the first time that a case of sexual violence against minors by a member of the Catholic clergy has become public in Timor-Leste.

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.

Updated: Sunday 28 April

The police in Timor-Leste has arrested a former priest who has been accused of sexually abusing young girls in his orphanage in the country’s enclave Oecusse. R.D. was brought before the judge last Friday (26 April) and is now in custody, sources confirm. Meanwhile the director of the shelter has been arrested as well after she was involved in an attack against a former resident of the orphanage whom she suspected of having given a statement against the priest.

Iha loron 12 Novembro kalan, tempotimor.com hetan eis padre ne’e iha Ro Success laran wainhira hala’o daudaun viajen ba Oekuse.

Ro refere sai husi Dili iha loron Tersa (12/11) tuku 17.00 no too iha Oekuse loron Kuarta tuku (05/11) dadersan mais ou menus tuku 05.30.

Tempotimor (Maliana ) – Eis Padre RD ne’ebé deskonfia komete krime abuzu sexuál hasoru minoridade iha uma mahon Topu Honis, Oécusse hakarak tama prizaun.

“Nia hakarak entrega an ba Polísia. Hakarak tama komarka,” Padre Lazarus Mau, SVD ulun boot kongregasaun Societas Verbi Divini (SVD) nian, iha Maliana ba tempotimor.com, Kuarta (13/11/19).

RD, tuir Padre Lazarus sai husi uma SVD iha Maliana, iha Tersa (12/11/19) dadersan ba Dili. To'o Dili, iha lokraik loron hanesan, RD sa’e Ró naran Succes, hodi kontinua nia viajen ba Oécusse.

“Nia ba tiha ona horiseik, depois sa’e ró ba Oécusse. Iha Maliana mós nia fó hatene ona ba Polísia. Nia rasik hakarak ba Oécusse. Depois to’o iha ne’ebá nia hakarak Polísia kaer nia lori ba komarka,” Padre Lazarus haktuir.

RD, tuir Padre Lazarus hetan akompanamentu husi señora Lili (atuál Diretora Topu Honis) ho ninia ema sira ne'ebé mai hasoru RD iha Maliana. “Sira to’o iha ne’e maizumenus tuku 07.15, depois sira sai husi ne’e ho karreta pickup ida maizumenus tuku 08.00 dadersan iha Tersa (12/11/19),” Padre Lazarus esplika.

Dezde Abril 2019, suspetu RD hela iha rezidénsia SVD iha Maliana, tuir aranju ne’ebe hanaran ‘House Arrest’.

“Nia dehan, nia lakohi subar tan iha ne’e,” hatete Padre Lazarus Mau.

Iha Segunda (11/11/19) eis saserdote ne’e ba aprezenta an iha eskuadra PNTL Munisípiu Maliana no husu kona-ba ninia kazu. Maibé, PNTL Maliana hateten ba RD katak ninia kazu ne’e monu iha PNTL Oécusse, nia responsabilidade.

Ne'ebé, bainhira RD to’o iha Oécusse, dadersan sedu loron Kuarta (13/11/19), Polísia sira preparadu ona iha portu Mahata, hodi kaer RD no lori kedan ba eskuadra PNTL Oécusse.

Iha fulan Abril liubá, Polísia Timor-Leste kaptura ona eis-padre Amerikanu ne'e. Autoridade legál mós prende nia pasaporte. Amlulik Lazarus Mau hatete, antes ne’e RD la hetan detensaun. Parte legál no igreja permite eis-padre ne'e hodi hela iha rezidénsia SDV nian iha Maliana ho razaun katak nia katuas ona, nomós konsidera ninia kontribuisaun ba Timor-Leste.

Bainhira intervista ho tempotimor.com loron 17 Setembru liubá, Padre Lazarus Mau ne’ebé ho idade 69 hateten, Rezidénsia SVD Maliana nu'udar fatin ne'ebé seguru. “Ha'u katuas ona, nia mós (RD) katuas ona," hatete Padre Lazarus.

Maski nune'e, nu'udar ulun boot SVD nian iha Maliana, Lazarus iha responsabilidade hodi kontrola suspeitu RD . “Bainhira nia ba merkadu, frater ida tenki akompaña nia. Ha'u rasik mak deside katak ema ruma bele mai vizita nia ka lae,” Lazarus esplika.

Tuir Lazarus, baibain se estudante ka ema ruma hosi Oécusse mak hakarak mai haree RD, ida ne'e la problema. Nune’e mós atuál Diretora Topu Honis, señora Lily Tarung ne'ebé bainhira ba vizita RD iha Maliana, sira tenki hasoru malu iha liur. La'ós iha rezidénsia SVD.

Fotográfia ida iha Instagram, hatudu katak suspeitu tuur hela iha restaurante ida iha Maliana hodi halimar laptop, bainhira señora Lily Tarung hemu hela serveza. Lili Tarung lakohi simu alegasaun hasoru nia xefi. Maske iha 2018, iha momentu wainhira RD konfesa ba doadór ida hosi Austrália naran Tony Hamilton katak nia komete duni abuzu seksuál. Tarung mós iha ne'ebá hodi asiste. Hamilton hateten, RD konfesa ba nia katak nia sempre halo abuzu seksuál ba labarik sira iha Topu Honis.

Informasaun balun hatete, iha mós alegasaun hasoru Señora Lili Tarung, tanba nia konsidera falla hodi proteje labarik sira iha Topu Honis.

Bainhira RD hetan kapturasaun iha Abril, Tarung haruka mane ida hodi ataka feto ida ne’ebé uluk hela iha orfonatu no iha ona oan ida ne’ebé nia deskonfia katak fó ona testemuña ba parte legál sira.

Feto ne’e hetan baku nune’e hetan kanek. Tarung mós hetan detensaun temporáriu. Maibé, hahalok violente ne’e halo eis orfonatu sira iha Topu Honis aumenta ta'uk atu ko'alia sai. Tanba sira tauk ema atu asalta ka ataka sira. Sira kontinua fó presaun ba pesoál sira iha Topu Honis. Nune’e mós sira ne’ebé hela besik iha ne'ebá.

Polisia iha Timor-Leste ohin (loron-sesta, 26 Abril) kaer eis-padre R.D., ne’ebé hetan akuzasaun halo abuzu seksuál ba labarik-feto ki’ik sira iha ninia orfanatu iha enklave Oecusse. Sira lori nia iha juís nia oin, fonte sira iha Timor-Leste konfirma. Fulan-novembru tinan liubá Vatikanu hasai R.D. hosi ninia estatutu nu’udar kleru, hodi kastiga nia ba krime sira-ne’ebé tuir ema dehan nia komete bainhira nia sei amo-padre. Ida-ne’e mak primeiravés katak kazu ida kona-ba violénsia seksuál kontra labarik sira hosi membru Kleru Katóliku sai públiku iha Timor-Leste.

Tempotimor (Dili); Relasiona ho kazu abuzu seksual ne'e komete husi eis-padre ho inisial RD, ne'ebé hasoru minoridade iha Rejiaun Administrativu Espesial Oekusi-Ambeno (RAEOA), Tribuanal Munisipiu Dili promove ona primeiru interogatóriu.

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