OECUSSE, East Timor — East Timor abruptly postponed the trial Monday of a defrocked American priest facing allegations he sexually abused young girls at a children’s shelter he ran in a remote enclave in the country — one of the most Catholic places on Earth.
Soon after Richard Daschbach, a former missionary from Pennsylvania, arrived in the courtroom, judges said they needed more time to make revisions to documents and asked the 84-year-old defendant to return on Tuesday.
The former priest is charged with 14 counts of sexual abuse of children under the age of 14, as well as counts of child pornography and domestic violence, according to the country’s Prosecutor General.
The case against Daschbach represents East Timor’s first child sex case brought against a priest, but it has been complicated by his hero status and loyal devotion from followers.
Allegations that Daschbach was abusing children at his shelter first surfaced three years ago.
An official at the Catholic church in East Timor’s capital, Dili, said Daschbach was defrocked in 2018 after he confessed to the abuses. Former donors also said he admitted it to them, but the ex-priest has not admitted to it publicly.