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Indonesian police nab man over rape of child in church

Suspect spent more than a year on the run after allegedly attacking girl, 9

Indonesian police nab man over rape of child in church

Family members of a 9-year-old girl go to Manggarai district police station to demand the arrest of her alleged rapist. Police arrested the suspect on June 27 after a manhunt lasting more than a year. (Photo supplied)

Police have arrested a 56-year-old man in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province for allegedly raping a child inside a Catholic church.

Manggarai district police said the unnamed suspect had been on the run since February last year.

The suspect was arrested on June 27 in Labuan Bajo in nearby West Manggarai district, police spokesman I. Made Budiarsa said.

He is accused of raping a 9-year-old girl from Pong Lale, a village in Manggarai district.

The alleged attack took place the Pong Lale mission station church where the suspect worked as a caretaker, police said.

The case came to light when the victim’s father made a police complaint in November 2019.

We have information that the victim might not be the only one. There is strong suspicion that there are other victims

A medical examination later confirmed the girl had been sexually assaulted and an arrest warrant was issued, Budiarsa said.

The suspect, who is married with three children, reportedly attacked the girl after offering her candy and money.

She and her family were being assisted by several lawyers, including Father Marthen Jenarut, chairman of Ruteng Diocese’s Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), and Valens Dulmin, a lawyer with the Franciscans’ JPIC.

Dulmin told UCA News that although the arrest deserves praise, "the victim’s family would like to see justice swiftly served.”

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He also said that could be more victims who have yet to come forward.

“We have information that the victim might not be the only one. There is strong suspicion that there are other victims," he said.

“If the police show resolve in prosecuting this guy, then this could encourage other victims to file complaints.” 

The case is the second one of child sexual abuse linked to the Indonesian Catholic Church reported to civil authorities.

Last year a church worker was jailed for 15 years for abusing two altar boys at a church in Depok, a city on the outskirts of Jakarta.

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