Slovene priest involved in sex scandal dies

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This week a Slovene priest accused of 16 counts of sexual assault on minors died, closing what was one of the most notorious cases against a member of the Catholic Church in Slovenia. According to a report in the daily Delo, Karel Jost died at the age of 64, reportedly of a stroke.

The four girls who accused the priest of sexual abuse wanted the truth about their dreadful experience to be established by the court. The girls, now aged between 18 and 23, said the priest had abused them also at church during confession. One of them claimed she had been raped. At the time they were between eight and twelve years old. According to the lawyer of the victims Adam Molan the girls are distressed by the public statement of the priest's defence following the priest's death:

"My clients are deeply distressed by the public statement made by the priest's defence, as the defence lawyers describe my clients as individuals who started the proceedings exclusively to benefit by it, of course this is not true. It was always their wish that the truth and the suffering they went through be established."

The girls' lawyer said that after consultations with his clients they might nevertheless file compensation claims against the Church for failing to secure safety for the victims on its premises. Jost served as priest in the village for nearly 33 years, and throughout this time there were rumours about his behaviour. The trial against Jost opened in early October 2006 in the presence of four alleged victims. All four victims also reported psychological problems in the face of the abuse and, as their lawyer Adam Molan says, no compensation will ever make the girls forget what they went through:

"I am convinced that no compensation can ever repay the horrors the girls had to experience and they are extremely distressed. As I said before, the defence's statement somehow deepened the girls distress and sorrow. One has to coinsider that all the girls were interrogated at least three times in each case and three times they were explicitly warned that if they fail to tell the truth they will be punished by the law. One can only imagine what effect it has on a person to go so many times through such a dreadful experience."

In another sex crime case, the Ljubljana District Court on the 20th of December sentenced priest Franci Frantar to three years and five months for sexually assaulting a person under 14. The former parish priest was reported to the police in 2000 by a local who said she had been sexually abused in 1990 and 1991, when she was only ten.