BELMOPAN, Belize, Feb 20, CMC – Human rights advocate, Audrey Matura, says the decision by a United States newspaper to include the name of a Belizean priest in a published list of 42 Roman Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse of children should be further investigated.
“We got to break the silence. I think there is some truth to something happening and we cannot pretend we are ostrich and bury our head in the sand and pretend that it is not happening. It is happening,” said Matura, who is also an attorney.
But attorney Leeroy Banner, who is representing the priest, who is well known in several communities for his caring, charismatic and loving personality here, vehemently denies the allegation made against his client.
He recalls that the allegation was made in the 1970s and the priest has since proved his innocence by passing a lie detector test.
However, Matura, said that the Diocese of Richmond Virginia in the United States would have not published the names if the allegations were not credible and substantiated.
“Clearly the Richmond, Virginia, Church would not have published the names of the priest…if they did not have sufficient evidence because they now the repercussions under the US civil and criminal system.
“So the mere fact that it was publish there has to be something that has been done already or something that they knew. It cannot be that that person would have that pattern of behaviour in Richmond and not here,” she said on a television programme on Tuesday night.
“And I am hoping that if there are people here who are victims in Belize that they would readily come forward and let their case be known to the proper authorities and seek legal help. They are also entitled like all the other victims especially in the US and the rest of the world that have come forward to compensation and you need to use that compensation to go through the therapy and whatever you need.”.
The human rights advocate warned that by remaining quiet “It creates more social problems than what we want to admit and it has created more harm in society than we can appreciate at this moment.
“If we peel back the layers we will find out that a lot of our social problem stem back to some sort of abuse in child hood. This is only one spectrum. This is one of the most horrific one because these boys usually go to their grave with it but yet we cannot understand their behavioural problems.”