Calls for investigation of sexual abuse as priest defrocked

Ljubljana – Responding to a priest from the archdiocese of Maribor being defrocked over sexual abuse of an underage person, an institute for the protection of victims of sexual abuse in the church in Slovenia has expressed support for the victims and requested that an independent commission be established to investigate this kind of abuse.

The press release from the institute Dovolj.je (It’s Enough) on Friday comes after the archdiocese said on Thursday that Anton Kmet had been deprived of priesthood after a Vatican church court had found him guilty of sexual abuse of an underage person.

According to media reports, Kmet last served as priest in Makole and also worked in the parish of Studenice, but was dismissed from both jobs in 2019 when an investigation at the church court started.

Janez Lesnika from the archdiocese has told newspaper Večer at the time that Kmet was suspected of criminal acts committed while serving as chaplain in Ljutomer in 1998-2001.

Tabloid Slovenske Novice reported he had sexually harassed an underage girl during a trip to the coast, an allegation Koper criminal police opened an investigation into.

The media have also reported that Kmet was sentenced to ten months in prison in 2010 for groping two girls, and served the sentence.

The institute, which also represents victims of sexual abuse in the church in Slovenia and their supporters, expressed support and respect to the priest’s victims.

“We also express our respect to the institutions of the leadership of the Catholic Church that have recognised in the criminal act of sexual abuse of the mentioned former priest a sufficient reason for dismissal from the service that requires the highest level of morality.”

It added that the sexual abuse uncovered so far was “just the tip of the iceberg” and announced “the decline of the responsible persons and structures within the Church in Slovenia … who do not care for human dignity and even act contrary.”

The institute called for an independent commission to investigate sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Slovenia to be established for the Holy See to intervene in the Catholic Church in Slovenia.