Priest from Hvar Charged with Sexual Abuse of Minor Girl

By 20 December 2018

ZAGREB, December 20, 2018 - The Municipal Prosecutor's Office in the southern coastal town of Split has indicted a 72-year-old Roman Catholic priest from the island of Hvar for sexual abuse of minor girl under 15 and acts of indecency.

The indictment alleges that the priest, the victim's Religious Education teacher, abused the girl several times over a prolonged period of time. The trial is expected to open before the Split Municipal Court early next year.

Under the law, a crime of sexual abuse of a child under 15 carries a prison sentence of between one and three years, while an act of indecency is punishable by imprisonment of up to eight years.

After the case was reported to the authorities, the priest was given a restraining order and was ordered to report to the local chief of police once a week.

The priest, resident in Stari Grad, expressed his regret and asked for forgiveness in a letter to the family, saying he could not explain to himself what made him behave like that. He has been suspended and banned from performing any church services.

He was arrested in May and released pending trial. Police would not make the case public at the time, citing the girl's wellbeing.

The Hvar Diocese has expressed deep regret and sympathy with the victim and her family, saying that the bishop has imposed on the priest in question all measures provided under canon law in such cases.

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