He touched her breasts and pinched private parts, says the girl’s mother.
Due to the suspicion that he has committed crimes of indecency and sexual abuse of a child under the age of 15, the police have arrested a 72-year-old priest from the island of Hvar. The first offense is punishable by imprisonment from one to three years and the second offence with up to eight years in prison. According to unofficial information, the alleged criminal offenses were committed over a more extended period of time, reports Jutarnji List on May 24, 2018.
After being taken to the State Attorney’s Office in Split, the arrested priest was questioned, and the investigating judge issued precautionary measures – the obligation for the priest to regularly report to the police station and the ban on establishing contact and approaching the victim. The priest was not sent to a remand prison, although the State Attorney’s Office requested it due to the danger of influencing the witnesses and the possibility of repeating the offenses. The prosecution said it would appeal the judge’s decision.
The Diocese of Hvar has issued a statement admitting that the priest belongs to the diocese. Unofficially, he was reported by a mother of a girl under the age of 15, who said that the priest had touched her daughter’s breasts and pinched her private parts.
“The Bishopric Ordinary in Hvar has received a notice of arrest and commencement of a criminal investigation of a cleric from the Diocese of Hvar, due to the suspicion of committing criminal offenses in the area of the protection of children and minors. In accordance with the provisions of the canon law, the diocesan bishop has issued all prescribed measures against the priest. Bishop Petar Palić expresses deep regret and sympathy with the person who has been subjected to the abuse and her family. At the same time, the bishop expresses his uncompromising determination to deal with such abuses which greatly endanger the trust and relationships within the ecclesiastical community,” said the diocese in the statement.
The priest was born on the island of Brač and was ordained in 1971. From then on he has been a parish priest in Dol on Hvar, as well as a parish associate in Stari Grad. He also worked at two other parishes on Hvar: in Selce for fifteen years and in Sveta Nedjelja for nine years.
Two years ago, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Stari Grad Town Council. At the time, the media reported that he was “very popular among the faithful and widely known to be a sincere, good-natured and friendly man, and many say that he has a big heart.”
On Hvar, he is also known as a keen olive grower with more than 350 olive trees, which is the reason why he is often called “the largest olive-grower among Croatian priests.”
Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Vladimir Urukalo).