Defrocked US priest Richard Daschbach
Vatican Victims Spokesperson Speaks Out About Sexual Abuse Photo by Valentino Dariel Sousa/AFP via Getty Images

Richard Daschbach, 84, a defrocked American priest in East Timor, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison Tuesday in the District Court of Oecusse, for sexually abusing orphaned and disadvantaged young girls under his care.

The trial started in February but it was canceled and postponed multiple times before concluding in November. During the proceedings, victims complained about threats and online attacks. Still, Daschbach stood strong with the help of some known people, including former President Xanana Gusmao, who also went to the court on Tuesday.

Daschbach has more than two spent decades as a missionary in Oecusse, he faced charges of child sexual abuse as well as child pornography and domestic violence.

A son of a Pittsburgh steelworker, Daschbach was ordained in 1964 by the Society of the Divine Word at its headquarters outside of Chicago. He first arrived in East Timor in 1996. The Pennsylvania-born was the one who founded the children's shelter, "Topu Honis" which means "Guide To Life" that operated for more than two decades.

It was reported that Daschbach was previously expelled from his Catholic congregation in 2019 after admitting to sexual abuse of minors. The previous year he was expelled from the Church de Santo Antonio de Motael in Dili.

A lot of females claimed to have suffered abuse, but only nine were registered in the case due to legal technicalities.

Daschbach’s lawyer, Julio Farma, expressed their dismay over the court’s verdict and plan to appeal the decision issued by the three judges. "Evidence provided by the shelter matron and former students who lived in the orphanage were ignored by the court," Farma told reporters. He alleged that some accusers changed their primary statements being taken to the capital, Dili.

In a statement released on Tuesday by JU,S Jurídico Social, a group of human rights lawyers representing the accusers, argued that the sentence should be harsher as under the law, Daschbach should have faced more than twice the prison time he was sentenced. "The history written today is a bitter history for the entire nation," the group said. "Our children were subjected to horrendous crimes for such a long time because we, as a society, were blinded by the belief that a figure as the defendant in this case would not commit such crimes against children."

Timor is considered to be the most Catholic place outside the Vatican. Daschbach is known to be respected for his role during the Southeast Asian nation’s fight for independence.

Defrocked US priest Richard Daschbach
This picture taken on June 9, 2021 shows defrocked US priest Richard Daschbach (C) preparing to attend his trial via videolink in Dili, facing charges of sexual abuse, child pornography and domestic violence. Photo by Valentino Dariel Sousa/AFP via Getty Images