Church asks court to determine abuse victim’s sexuality and whether she “liked” the relationship with the priest

A Catholic curia in Poland asked a court to determine the sexuality of a priest’s victim and whether he was “enjoying the intimate relationship.” The victim says she was 12 when the abuse began.

Last year Janusz Szymik – pictured above as a child – brought a civil action against the Diocese of Bielsko-Żywiec. He asks for three million zlotys (€ 660,000) in compensation from the curia, which he says is responsible for the abuse he suffered from a priest – who can only be appointed as Jan W. in under Polish law on privacy protection – in the 1980s.

A church court had previously found Jan W. guilty of sexual offenses against Szymik as a child. In 2017, he received a five-year ban from performing priestly ministry and hearing confession, and was sentenced to live in isolation.

The Onet news site has now published part of the curia’s response to the Szymik civil trial. Among his claims is “evidence from an expert sex therapist on the determination of the claimant’s sexual preferences, in particular the determination of the claimant’s sexual orientation”.

In addition, he requests that the victim be questioned about her relationship with the priest, including “showing her pleasure in having an intimate relationship with Jan W”. and even “reap benefits [from it], including material benefits ”.

The diocese “denies that the relationship was based on slavery or incapacity; on the contrary: it was voluntary and based on mutual benefits ”, according to the document cited by Onet. This refers to the testimony of Jan W. at the church trial, in which he admitted to having had sexual contact with Szymik only from 1987, and not in 1984 as claimed by the victim.

He also contends that although Szymik was an altar boy, because the meetings between him and the priest took place outside the church, and because Szymik “voluntarily participated”, they “were not related. in the ministry of Jan W. ”and“ no contact with sexuality took place in the performance of the duties entrusted to him ”.

Catholic Church in Poland must pay compensation to victim of pedophile priest, court says

Finally, the curia opposes Szymik’s request for technical reasons. He says that the statute of limitations for the civil action has expired and that the abuse took place before the creation of the Diocese of Bielsko-Żywiec, when Jan W. was under the authority of the Diocese of Krakow.

In response to the publication of the diocese’s legal submission, Tomasz Terlikowski, a prominent Catholic commentator, called his approach “scandalous” and “sad proof that the bishop does not even know the teachings of the church of which he is. supposed to be a shepherd. ”.

The questions the curia proposes to ask Szymik are indicative of a “pedophile thought pattern” and will cause “harm again to the victim,” tweeted Terlowski, who called on the bishop to withdraw the document, to appoint a new lawyer and apologize.

Last year, the former bishop of Bielsko-Żywiec, Tadeusz Rakoczy was sanctioned by the Vatican for negligence in his response to Szymik’s accusations of abuse against Jan W. in 1993 and 2007. Szymik is convinced that the priest also abused other victims.

In 2012, the then Archbishop of Krakow, Stanisław Dziwisz, was also informed of alleged abuses by Jan W., reports Dziwisz, a former private secretary to Pope John Paul II, has previously been accused of ignoring cases of abuse and accepting bribes from those who committed them.

Jan W. was not removed from his parish until 2014 by Rakoczy’s successor, Roman Pindel. He remains in solitary confinement following his conviction by the church tribunal.

Vatican punishes Polish bishop for negligence in pedophilia case

Main image credit: Grzegorz Celejewski / Agencja Gazeta

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