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Indonesia pays compensation to sexually abused altar boys

The culprit, a liturgical coordinator in their parish, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison

Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta

Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta

Published: November 29, 2021 11:05 AM GMT

Updated: November 30, 2021 03:34 AM GMT

Indonesia pays compensation to sexually abused altar boys

Parents of two child sexual abuse victims receive payment of compensation from Sri Kuncoro (right), head of Depok District Attorney’s Office, in the presence of Azas Tigor Nainggolan (left), the victims' lawyer, in West Java province, Indonesia, on Nov. 29. (Photo supplied)

A district attorney’s office in Indonesia has handed over compensation to two altar boys sexually assaulted by a church worker at a parish in the country’s West Java province.

The payment was made in the district attorney’s office in Depok on Nov. 29 in the presence of the head of the district attorney’s office and the boys’ parents as well as Azas Tigor Nainggolan, the victims’ lawyer, and Father Yoseph Sirilus Natet, parish priest of St. Herkulanus Church under the jurisdiction of Bogor Diocese.

An official from the Witness and Victim Protection Agency, an independent government agency that provides protection to witnesses and victims of crimes during criminal investigations, was present too.

“The victims’ parents received cash from the head of the district attorney’s office,” Father Natet told UCA News. “The head of the district attorney’s office said it will never be able to heal the victims. Yet it can be seen as the state’s effort to bring justice to the victims.”

The priest said his parish has conducted awareness programs among parishioners to prevent such cases from recurring in the parish church.

The payment of compensation was made after Depok District Court on Jan. 6 sentenced Syahril Marbun, who served as liturgical coordinator in the parish, to 15 years in prison for sexually assaulting the two boys aged 14 and 15 and ordered him to pay a fine of 200 million rupiahs (US$14,360) and to compensate the victims with 6.5 million and 11.5 million rupiahs respectively.

My son is now in a good condition. He told me that he needed to rest for a while

Nainggolan regarded the payment of compensation to child victims of sexual abuse as “the first of its kind in Indonesia.”

He appreciated the state’s effort to put a heavy burden on the perpetrator but also suggested that the maximum 15-year prison term should be raised to life imprisonment to prevent such crimes against children.

Marbun’s sentence was harsher than the 11 years demanded by prosecutors since he abused his position as an educator and guide to the altar boys.

Similar hope came from Guntur (not his real name), a father of one of the two boys.

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“My son received 6.5 million [rupiahs]. The perpetrator should have received a heavier sentence,” he told UCA News while clarifying that he wasn’t looking for money.

The amount of compensation was for the money spent by him on the legal process, transport and such other expenses.

“My son is now in a good condition. He told me that he needed to rest for a while,” the father said.

The case came to light in March 2020 when a parent of one of the victims discovered what was going on and reported it to church officials, including the bishops’ Commission for Justice, Peace and Migrant-Itinerant People.

Marbun was arrested by police in June last year following the parent’s complaint and an investigation was conducted by the parish and the diocese.

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