Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Catholic Abuse News - The Priest Who Saw Sex With Young Girls as Payment for His Good Works

Rev. Richard Daschbach
Defrocked US priest revered in East Timor accused of abuse

The newly-independent nation of East Timor, or Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste as it shoud be called, is said to be the most devoutly Catholic country outside the Vatican City.

It was in this atmosphere of unquestioning trust, almost amounting to idolization of Catholic Priests as Men of God, that the American, Rev. Richard Daschbach, predated on children to satisfy his sexual perversion.

He had risen to local fame when he set up a refuge for the destitute and orphaned child victims of the long, bloody war for independence from Indonesia, that the Timorese final won in 2002.

The way that you determine who sits on his lap is by the list that he’d have on his door, and that meant that you were the little girl that was going to go with him.

Abuse victim
But there was a grim price to pay for his protection. Every evening a list would be posted on his bedroom door and the girl whose name appeared at the top of the list was expected to share a bed with Daschbach and another elementary school-aged girl. Fear of banishment from the shelter prevented the young girls from complaining or resisting at the time.

The horrors they suffered at his hands are now being played out in court in a trial which was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic last month but is due to resume in May. At least 15 girls have come forward to testify to the abuse they suffered. According to this AP report:
Daschbach would sit on a chair every night in the middle of a room holding a little girl, surrounded by a ring of children and staff members praying and singing hymns before bed.

“The way that you determine who sits on his lap is by the list that he’d have on his door,” one accuser said. “And that meant that you were the little girl that was going to go with him.”

Later in his room, they said Daschbach would strip down to white boxer shorts and a T-shirt and then undress the girls, giving them deodorant to put on before fondling them and quietly guiding their hands to touch him. Then, they said, there would often be oral sex. One accuser also alleged she was raped.

He would sometimes ask the children with him on the lower bunk to switch places with one or two others sleeping on the mattress above, they said, adding abuse also occasionally occurred during afternoon naps.
The curious thing is that the 84 year-old from Pennsylvania, USA, is not now a Catholic priest, although he is still revered as one and has an almost rock star-like celebrity status in Timor-Leste, the former president and hero of the struggle for independence, Xanana Gusmao, visiting him on his birthday. He was defrocked in 2018 after confessing to the sexual abuse of children.

I think in some crazy way, he recognizes that what he has done is a crime, but he reconciles it somehow with the good that he’s done.

Tony Hamilton
Australian aid worker to whom Daschbach admitted his paedophilia.
Daschbach was ordained in 1964 by Divine Word Missionaries in Chicago, the Catholic Church's largest missionary congregation. When he arrived in East Timor, the country was under Portuguese colonial occupation, which ended in 1975, whereupon Indonesia invaded, ostensibly to prevent a Communist takeover. He started the Topu Honis (Guide to Life) shelter in 1995 and his fame soon attracted donations and foreign aid workers such as the Australians Jan McColl and Tony Hamilton who became suspicious about his relationship with the children. Curiously, when confronted Daschbach made no attempt to deny his paedophilia. When asked point blank if he was a paedophile, he told Jan McColl, "Yes. That’s who I am. And always have been" and calmly continued to eat his lunch.

Although the Vatican acted swiftly to remove him from the ministry, his local archdioceses was far more accommodating. Having agreed to keep him under house arrest in a church residence in the town of Maliana, it then allowed him to move around unrestricted and even take an overnight ferry back to the children's home in which his abuses took place. Despite being defrocked and technically no longer a priest, he was still allowed to perform the duties of one, including the celebration of mass. It was almost as though the local Archbishop could see nothing wrong with his behaviour and acted as though the Vatican had no authority in the matter.

The Vatican's representative in Timor-Leste, Monsignor Marco Sprizzi, appeared to try to wash his hands of the affair, saying:
Once he’s defrocked ... he’s no more a priest. He is no part of the clergy. And, of course, that house for children was not -- since the beginning -- was not belonging to his religious congregation. He did it by himself, and it was in his own name.
He would pull out and say, ‘I have to stop, otherwise you’ll be pregnant'.

One of the accusers in an interview with AP, (nearing puberty at the time of the abuse).
A report by the archdiocese's "Justice and Peace Commission" was so ludicrously biased in Daschbach's favour and so embarrassed the Archbishop of Dili, that he sacked the president of the commission. The report not only named the victims, despite the fact that they have been physically threatened for speaking up, but accused the prosecutors of sexually abusing them by having them forensically examined. It also accused them of human trafficking because seven of the fifteen accusers had been moved to a safe house.

When I was getting abused, I was like, ‘Is this sort of like the payment? That’s what I was computing in my head … ‘this must be the price that I have to pay to be a part of this.’ You know, like those shiny little dresses that these girls are wearing to church. That’s not free. This is the price tag.

One of the accusers in an interview with AP.
As well as the sexual abuses that took place in Daschbach's bedroom, the accusers also claim he used to supervise their showers. Again, according to this AP report:
The accusers who spoke to AP described systematic abuse and inappropriate behavior, including Daschbach regularly overseeing the girls’ showers. They said all of the children removed their clothes and stood together around a large concrete water basin outside, with the nude priest going from girl to girl shampooing their hair and splashing water on their private parts. They said he also took photos of them naked as they played in the rain, and that some girls were told he didn’t want them to wear underwear.

His accusers said they were filled with hope when they arrived at the shelter. For the first time, they, along with many others, had clean clothes, time to play, and an emphasis on school. Most importantly, they had food. The meals were basic but steady.

The adoration and respect for the white American missionary was so commanding, the accusers said they did whatever he wanted without question.

One recalled first arriving at the shelter still distraught after her father had died and said the priest raped her that same night. She said he continued to do so frequently the entire time she was there.

She said he would lock the door and pull the curtains, telling her they had to be careful and that no one could know. She said he typically chose young children, but for those like her who were nearing puberty, Daschbach exercised caution.

“He would pull out and say, ‘I have to stop, otherwise you’ll be pregnant,’” she said.

Now, accusers say they struggle to process how someone who appeared so kind and selfless could ask them to do things that felt so wrong.

"When I was getting abused, I was like, ‘Is this sort of like the payment?’” one accuser said. “That’s what I was computing in my head … ‘this must be the price that I have to pay to be a part of this.’ You know, like those shiny little dresses that these girls are wearing to church. That’s not free. This is the price tag.”
Several of the accusers have said they find it hard to understand how someone who appeared to be kind and selfish could do the things that Daschbach did to the girls. The Australians, Jan McColl and Tony Hamilton, for examples, were surprised at how readily and easily Daschbach admitted to his paedophilia, as though it was a matter of no importance.

In fact, this is probably not hard to understand, and is possibly one reason these sorts of casual abuses of children are so common in religious institutions. The psychological phenomenon is that of moral self-licencing. Self-licencing in this context is defined as:
The moral licensing effect is a non conscious effect that operates by providing a moral boost in the self-concept, which increases the preference for a relative immoral action subsequently by dampening the negative self attributions associated with such behavior. Prior choices that activate and boost the self-concept, are likely to subsequently license more self-indulgent choices ... Licensing can operate through an expression of the intent to be virtuous, which reduces negative self-attributions associated with the purchase of relative luxuries.

[or more succinctly:]

Past good deeds can liberate individuals to engage in behaviors that are immoral, unethical, or otherwise problematic, behaviors that they would otherwise avoid for fear of feeling or appearing immoral.

In other words, by being virtuous, the moral self-licensee believes he/she accumulates points like money in a bank savings account, that can be drawn down to 'pay' for future misdeeds as a king of reward for good behaviour with a little relaxation of the rules to permit selfish behaviour or other acts normally considered immoral.

This psychological process can be seen time and again in, particularly, the conspicuously moralizing fundamentalist who turns out to be a crook, a serial adulterer and/or a sexual predator on children and vulnerable people. This is why some of the publicly most pious people are also privately some of the most unpleasant, abusive and hypocritical of people. It is also the reason I say:
Religion provides excuses for people who need excuses.

Thank you for sharing!

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