“A Catholic former priest who faces allegations of sexual abuse dating back to Papua New Guinea in the 1980s is now being prosecuted in the small mid-Atlantic US state of Delaware for molesting a teenage girl over 14 years ago.
The case is being heralded as a landmark because it represents the first lawsuit against a priest in the diocese since church authorities revealed in 2006 that allegations of abuse and molestation against minors had surfaced against a handful of clergy.
While some of the victims were outraged at having to wait over a decade for some sort of closure others applauded the grand jury’s indictment of John A. Sarro on Jan. 29.
He was charged with first-degree sexual intercourse and second-degree unlawful sexual contact for fondling and engaging a young teenage girl in oral sex on several occasions from 1992-1994, The Associated Press reported.
The statute of limitations does not apply in this case as Delaware’s criminal code of conduct makes exceptions for particular sexual crimes, The Western Journal said.
The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington in Delaware reported a list of complaints against living and deceased priests in 2006 but none have been prosecuted until now.
In 2011, the diocese agreed to pay US$70 million in damages to nearly 150 alleged victims of sexual abuse as the church feared future lawsuits could result in its bankruptcy, according to media reports.
The diocese removed Sarro from ministry in 1997 and forbade him from representing himself as a Catholic priest but petitions to the Vatican in 2009 to have him officially removed from the Catholic clergy were declined.”