Trial begins of 100-year-old priest accused of sexually abusing boy

The trial has got underway in Brussels of a 100-year-old man that is accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy. Despite the man’s advanced years, the Public Prosecutor’s Office says that a prison sentence can’t be ruled out. 

The trial is being held at the Court of Appeal in Brussels. The defendant stands accused of having sexually assaulted a minor at the Don Bosco monastery in the Flemish Brabant municipality of Oud Heverlee. The boy, who was 16 at the time of the assault, was at the monastery on a spiritual retreat while his parents were embroiled in an acrimonious divorce. 

"A bond of trust soon developed between the two. When the boy went to the accused’s room to watch a film, he started touching him. The boy tried to prevent this this, but the accused then sexually assaulted him, after which the victim ran away”, the Public Prosecutor’s Office said.

The man was sentenced by the Criminal Court in Leuven (Flemish Brabant) in 2018. He sentenced to 12 months imprisonment but appealed. His appeal is now being heard.

The man’s barrister says that his client doesn’t deny what he has done. The aim of the appeal is to get the custodial sentence suspended. He added that his client had immediately informed his superiors within the clergy two weeks later he was transferred to another monastery in Boortmeerbeek (Flemish Brabant). There he lives in isolation, only leaving his room to eat with the other residents and to pray. The only contact he has with outsiders is with carers.

However, prosecutors says that new allegations have been made against the man. “The accused reportedly made an indecent proposal while he was being washed by a young male nurse. He also constantly makes inappropriate remarks to the male carers from the Wit-Gele Kruis (an organisation that offers nursing and other care services to people in their homes). Eventually these allegations didn’t go to court”.

By demanding a custodial sentence prosecutors want to make it clear that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable, whatever your age.  

Furthermore, "In 1998 the man was found guilty of similar offences committed against minors. Then he was given a suspended sentence. The trial will continue on 17 November. 

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