Cardinal Duka accused of covering up case of sexual abuse

Dominik Duka, photo: ČTK/Michal Kamaryt

Cardinal Dominik Duka is facing a criminal investigation, after being accused of covering up a case of sexual abuse in the Dominican Order. The victim, who remains anonymous, told the news site earlier this week that he reported the abuse to Mr.Duka but the cardinal had failed to take action against it.

Dominik Duka,  photo: ČTK/Michal Kamaryt

The victim claims the abuse went on for three years in the early 1990s, while he was training to become a priest. At the time, Dominik Duka was a provincial of the Dominican Order in the Czech Republic. The priest who abused him later left the order after being accused of sexual abuse by several other people. He died before the case came to court.

Jan Rozek is from the Organisation Za čistou církev or For a Clean Church, which has been supporting the victim of the abuse:

“The victim of the sexual abuse says that when he described the case in detail to Mr. Duka, including the very painful moments, caused by the perpetrator, the Cardinal, did not try to search for truth.

“He questioned both people involved, and because the victim was just a student at the time and the perpetrator was a deacon, Duka didn’t believe him. Therefore he failed to prevent further abuse that went on in the Dominican Order.”

Illustrative photo: Martina Schneibergová
“What is more, he later ordained him as a priest, although the candidate must have a clean moral record.”

Cardinal Duka admitted in several interviews that he remembered the incident and said he failed to act because the priest swore on the cross that the young man was lying.

Now, more than 30 years after the incident took place, the victim decided to bring a criminal complaint against Duka, telling the news site that he had no other way to close the case with dignity.

He also said that Duka has repeatedly refused to meet him face to face. Jan Rozek again:

“TThe victim only wanted one thing, to meet with the Cardinal and talk things over. He wasn’t waiting for an apology. We repeatedly asked the Cardinal for a meeting, but he refused.

“In a family, when someone does something wrong, they know they have to apologize. But the Cardinal, although he admits he did something wrong, said he would only apologize if the court tells him to do so.”

According to Mr Rozek, the cardinal could be held accountable for failing to prevent criminal activity, for siding with the perpetrator and helping him escape investigation and a fair trial. The spokesman for the Prague Archdiocese, Štěpán Rob says Mr. Duka is fully prepared to cooperate with law enforcement authorities:

“The Cardinal welcomes the criminal complaint, so that the circumstances surrounding the case can finally be impartially investigated.”

Because the incident happened nearly 30 years ago, it is likely that the statute of limitations on Mr Duka’s alleged crimes have already expired. But, according to the victim’s lawyer, it still makes sense to carry out the investigation as a way of bringing closure to his client’s case.