20 March 2015
WARSAW (Reuters) – A Catholic priest on trial for sexually abusing children in Poland and the Dominican Republic offered on Friday to serve a seven-year jail term, a court spokeswoman said.
The priest was suspended by his religious order in the rural Dominican parish of Juncalito last year after local residents accused him of molesting altar boys, according to the church.
He was arrested after returning to his native Poland and is on trial on 10 charges relating to child sex abuse and possessing pornographic images of children. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail.
“The priest filed for voluntary submission to a seven-year penalty,” said court spokeswoman Joanna Adamowicz. “The prosecutors will give their opinion on the motion on March 25.”
Polish law allows defendants to file such a motion, which does not signify an admission of guilt. Polish media have quoted the priest as saying he is not guilty.
The priest is being identified only as Wojciech G., as under Polish law the media is barred from reporting the family name of a defendant.
Pope Francis has pledged zero tolerance for anyone in the church who abuses children, likening such abuse to a “satanic mass”.
The Vatican last year arrested a defrocked Polish archbishop, Jozef Wesolowski, former Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic, after he was accused of having sex with children during his posting.
A church tribunal had previously ordered Wesolowski to be stripped of the priesthood.
(Reporting by Adrian Krajewski; editing by Andrew Roche)
Unidentified attorneys representing Polish priest Wojciech Gil talk to those representing victims in the Dominican Republic, background, before the start of the priest’s trial on charges of abuse of minors, in the court corridor in Wolomin, near Warsaw, Poland, Friday, March 20, 2015. The priest has been under arrest since February 2014 on charges of abusing six minors in the Caribbean island between 2009 and 2013 and two in Poland in 2000-2001. He could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. The media were barred from the courtroom and Gil was let in through the back door.(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
Polish priest accused of abusing minors seeks settlement
20 March 2015
WOLOMIN, Poland (AP) — A Polish priest accused of abusing eight minors in the Dominican Republic and in Poland has sought settlement for a seven-year prison term, a court spokesman said Friday.
The priest, Wojciech Gil, has been under arrest since February 2014 on charges of abusing six minors at the Caribbean island between 2009 and 2013 and two in Poland in 2000-2001. The charges also included possession of child pornography and illegal possession of arms. He has denied the charges.
If convicted after full court proceedings, the 37-year-old could face up to 15 years in prison.
Court spokesman, Marcin Lochowski, told The Associated Press that the priest’s attorney made a motion for a settlement and a seven-year prison term for the priest at the start of the closed-door trial in the Polish town of Wolomin.
The prosecutors have until Wednesday to decide whether they accept the offer, that would close the trial, or whether they want full proceedings that would take months. The prosecutors represent the Polish and the Dominican victims.
Reporters were barred from the courtroom and Gil was let in through the back door.
Gil is being tried in Poland because the eastern European country does not have an extradition agreement with the Dominican Republic, making a trial there impossible.