A grand jury indicted an 84-year-old United States citizen and former priest on seven counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place.
Richard Jude Daschbach allegedly began abusing his young female victims in Timor-Leste, a Southeast Asian island nation also known as East Timor, beginning in at least 2013, federal prosecutors said.
In 1992, the suspect founded and ran the Timor-Leste shelter home for orphans and destitute children. At least 15 females have now come forward and claimed Daschbach allegedly sexually abused them during naps and sleepovers in his room at the shelter, the Associated Press reported.
Jan McColl, who helped fund the organization, reportedly confronted Daschbach about the allegations of sexual abuse. “I think in some crazy way, he recognizes that what he has done is a crime,” McColl claimed, according to the AP. “But he reconciles it somehow with the good that he’s done.”
The Catholic church defrocked Daschbach in 2018 after he allegedly confessed to the abuse, according to the AP.
In addition to the new counts brought against the former priest in the United States, he was also indicted in 2019 on wire fraud charges in connection to fundraising he had participated in on behalf of the shelter home.
Daschbach, who is originally from Pennsylvania, also faces related child sexual exploitation charges in Timor Leste, prosecutors said.
If convicted of the seven illicit sexual conduct charges, Dashbach faces a maximum 30 years in prison per count, prosecutors noted.
“This case shows that we will use the full extent of the law to prosecute U.S. citizens who allegedly prey on children, no matter how far we must go to bring them to justice,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia.
He added: “Together with our law enforcement partners, we must ensure that people placed in positions of trust do not betray their responsibilities to help the children who depend upon them.”