The abuse allegedly took place in the Topu Honis orphanage, which Daschbach ran for several years in a remote part of East Timor. Orphaned and poor children lived there, writes the Associated Press.
There, the police have kept Daschbach under house arrest since 2018. He refused to go to the capital Dili.
The fronts have been hard in the small enclave of Oecusse, where some of the former priest’s followers still support him. They are grateful that he provided food, clothing, and education for many children.
Other families, and young women who have reported him for abuse, have pushed for the former priest to be convicted. The charges relate to several forms of sexual assault, including rape.
The country’s former president, prime minister and liberation hero, Xanana Gusmão, was present in the courtroom when Daschbac was introduced.
Gusmão continues to enjoy great trust in East Timor. He has received much criticism for his support of the accused priest, including from his own children.
Of East Timor’s 1.3 million inhabitants, 98 percent belong to the Roman Catholic Church.
Read: All NRK’s articles about East Timor
The Vatican has deprived Daschbach of the right to serve as a priest. He is thus released from his ordination promise. Nevertheless, he has at times insisted on holding a mass for his followers, writes the online newspaper Union of Catholic Asian News.
A representative of the Catholic Church in the capital Dili says that Daschbach has admitted to the church that he has abused children.
But he has not admitted this publicly, writes the news agency AP.
News media in East Timor covered Daschbach’s birthday on 26 January. He was then honored for his efforts in the country’s independence struggle and his support for the poor.
But there was little or no mention of the allegations against him of abuse.
Daschbach has belonged to the Society of the Word of God (Società del Verbo Divino). He is originally from Pennsylvania in the United States. From there, he received much support for his orphanage and missionary work.
U.S. prosecutors have now issued an arrest warrant for him. They have accused Daschbach of embezzling money on three occasions.
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