NICOSIA District Court has sentenced a 57-year-old priest to 18 months’ imprisonment for indecent assault on an underage girl who was in his care as part of the welfare services’ fostering system.
Sentencing is effective immediately and includes the time the priest has served under detention from November 1. A judge delivered sentence behind closed doors.
But the priest’s crime dates back over a decade relating to the indecent assault at some point between 1993 and 2000 of his foster daughter, who was just a child at the time. The woman only recently came forward to police, a delay that is common among abuse victims who sometimes only come to terms with what happened to them after they no longer are in their abusers’ power.
The maximum penalty available to the court given the law when the crime took place, was two years. In 2009, the law was amended to allow maximum imprisonment of five years.
The priest’s flock from Ergates village showed up in court to indicate their support. They were reportedly angry at a sentence they considered unfair. Daily newspaper Politis said the priest’s wife cursed the woman who reported her abuser, wishing for her “to burn”. Other, unnamed supporters were quoted as complaining against the “injustice” done to the priest.
But the victim had reportedly also filed a report against the priest’s wife for beating her up, as well as welfare services for seemingly failing in their duty of care. According to social welfare services’ website, part of the support they offer to foster families includes professional help.
Foster families are paid to give children the support, care and family environment they need. The priest and his wife were paid for the girl’s clothes, food, board, and any expenses made to her name, and as part of the terms on foster care parenting, were regularly visited by a welfare officer.