Polish priest Adam Kuszaj was cleared of sexual abuse charges after 10 years from an incident that allegedly never took place.
“I fought for 10 years. This was a painful experience. My first reaction was to forgive the altar boy for accusing me unjustly,” said the priest once the acquittal court ruling was announced.
Priest Kuszaj used to serve at a parish in the Czech northern town of Javornik at the Czech-Polish border. It was in 2009 that an altar boy falsely accused him of sexual abuse. At that time, the court found the priest guilty and sentenced him to six months of prison conditionally suspended for two years.
The priest was also suspended by the Church authorities and was barred to continue priestly activities. Priest Kuszaj had to undertake the job of a physical worker – a profession he follows to this day.
“I still work. People don’t know what has been going on with me all this time. They might learn about this from the TV, that the court has acquitted, however, I’m not sure if they accept me once again,” stressed priest Kuszaj, cited by the Czech “novinky.cz” news website.
The priest was acquitted on February 13, thanks to the appearance of new witnesses, namely acquaintances of the former altar boy. The witnesses testified that immediately after the first ruling was made they heard the whole accusation was faked and contrived by the altar boy as a means of vengeance on the priest for his refusal to continue financing the boy’s family.
According to “novinky.cz”, citizens of Javornik said that the boy had demanded money from the priest, who refused on grounds that he was helping another family. Experts later found that the altar boy’s testimony is implausible.
However, the plaintiff persists that he “did not make up the story. I am the witness of what has happened,” he told the Czech Republic’s “lidovky.cz” news website.
Once the ruling becomes final, head of the Salvatorian Order in the Czech Republic priest Leszek Rackowiak said, the order will contact higher Church authorities to remove the suspension put on priest Kuszaj.
Priest Kuszaj’s attorney said that compensation is to be pondered. The priest himself, however, took the years-long strife for his reputation as a “purgatory that bestows [himself - ed.] with God’s providence so that [he] may become a better man and a better priest.” He also said that he “would like to go back to the priesthood, serve God and people. I want to live here, in the Czech Republic. It’s a beautiful country.”