Disgraced American priest Richard Daschbach has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington DC on the grounds of illicit sexual conduct with minors who lived in a shelter run by him in a remote area of East Timor, his home country.

The shelter was founded in the year 1993 in Kutet, Oecusse, and served as a home for orphans and impoverished children.

As reported by ABC News, Daschbash, 84, currently faces seven counts of engaging in sexual misconduct and is on trial in East Timor for the same allegations. If convicted in the United States, Daschbach would face up to 30 years in prison for each of the seven counts that have been levied against him. Some of the charges against him include sexual abuse of young girls, inflicting domestic violence, and possessing child pornography.

It is yet to be known as to whether there are plans to extradite the former priest, who is reportedly even wanted in the US for allegations pertaining to wire fraud that is linked to one of his California-based donors. The court case accuses Daschbach of violating an agreement that serves as an assurance to protect minors under his care. The media outlet states that an Interpol Red Notice has been issued internationally for his arrest.

Daschbach’s controversy happens to be one of the first of its kind among clergy sex abuse cases with the highest percentage of Catholics outside the Vatican. The church defrocked Daschbach in 2018 after he confessed to sexually abusing children but averred that he maintained strong alliances.

Daschbach’s trial in Timor-Leste’s Oecusse district court began in February, but was met with constant delays with the priest attributing his reluctance to appear in court to COVID-19 restrictions.

He and his attorneys have declined to comment on the case in the past. The former Divine Word priest continues to enjoy a strong following in his home country, where he’s still lauded for his role in bringing forth independence from Indonesia. Some of Daschbach’s staunch loyalists have sparked outrage on social media after they lambasted victims, NGOs, and the public prosecutor who held him guilty.

The Catholic Church however urged the public to render support to the victims after the priest confessed to the crimes during a church investigation, UCA News reported. The trial is slated to resume in mid-September.

A representational image.
A representational image. Geralt/Pixabay