Danish priest charged with abusing 12 children

A former priest at the Tømmerup Church in Kalundborg has been charged with sexually assaulting seven children and committing indecent exposure against a further five.

Danish priest charged with abusing 12 children
Photo: Bax Lindhardt/Scanpix

The 47-year-old priest, who has been remanded in custody for the last year, has been charged for 30 separate breaches of the law, reports broadcaster TV2.

He is charged with sexually abusing seven children, who were all under the legal age of consent at the time of the crimes; and indecent exposure against five boys, whom he contacted on Skype, pretending to be a girl, according to TV2’s report, which is based on a charge sheet obtained by the television station.

The assaults are reported to have taken place at the 47-year-old’s place of residence over a 10-year period between 2006 and May 2016.

He is also charged with possession of child pornography and possession of narcotics for own consumption in the form of cannabis, according to the report.

The priest, who started a network for young Christians that he called the “Young Disciples”, applied to be relieved of his duties following his arrest in June last year, reports TV2.

In September 2016, he admitted to having sexual relations with a 12-year-old girl.

Court proceedings against the man are scheduled to begin in October and conclude on November 16th this year at Holbæk Court.

As such, the priest will have been remanded in custody for 17 months at the time the verdict is given.

According to Denmark’s Administration of Justice Act (Retsplejeloven), detention of suspects must not last for more than a year unless exceptional circumstances apply.

The priest’s defence lawyer, Ulrik Sjølin, recently criticised the long duration of his client’s custody.

“It is necessary to remember that people remanded in custody do not have access to very much. Such a detention, when it is hard to have any idea of what is going on, is really taking its toll on my client,” Sjølin told news agency Ritzau.

Prosecuting lawyer Anja Lund Liin said the long period of custody was necessary due to the longstanding nature of the investigation.

“We always strive to process cases as quickly as possible when people are remanded, but it depends upon the nature of the case and how much investigation must be done,” she told Ritzau.