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Friday, December 3, 2021

Kalisz: the sentence for priest Arkadiusz H. was canceled. Court: the statute of limitations has been reached

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The Kalisz court quashed the sentence in the case of Father Arkadiusz H. In the first instance, the 52-year-old was convicted of molesting a 15-year-old girl from Pleszew (Greater Poland Voivodeship) to three years’ imprisonment. He was also banned from working with children and youth for 10 years. However, the second-instance court found that the act was statute-barred. The judgment is final.

Father Arkadiusz H. is the negative protagonist of the Sekielski brothers’ documentary “Game of hide-and-seek”. According to the prosecutor’s office, the 52-year-old boy – between September 1998 and May 2000 in Pleszew – committed at least a dozen sexual crimes to the detriment of a 15-year-old victim. Arkadiusz H. was supposed to hurt six more boys who reported to the prosecutor’s office, but most of these cases have already expired and the investigations have been discontinued.

The 52-year-old faced up to 12 years in prison. In the first instance, the court had no doubts that H. was guilty of the alleged acts. The man was sentenced to three years in prison. The court also prohibited him from working with children and youth for 10 years. The prosecutor demanded a higher sentence for Arkadiusz H. – six years of absolute imprisonment, a ban on contact with the victim for eight years and a ban on working with children for as long as possible. In turn, the defendant’s defense attorney, attorney Michał Królikowski, requested a lighter sentence – 1.5 years in prison, suspended for five years.

Neither party was satisfied with the court’s decision. Both the defense and the prosecutor’s office appealed against the verdict.

On Friday, the District Court in Kalisz quashed the judgment of the first instance court and discontinued the proceedings. As judge Marek Bajger explained, the punishability of the act has been time-barred. This is an absolute ground of appeal.

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He asked for “fraternal reconciliation”

In the first instance, the trial of Arkadiusz H. started on March 3 this year and ended a week later. The District Court in Pleszew had no doubts and decided that Fr. Arkadiusz H. is guilty of the alleged acts. The man was sentenced to three years in prison and a ban on working with children and youth for 10 years.

During the prosecution proceedings, H. pleaded not guilty. He only changed his mind when he was brought before the court. – The allegation in question was made by me. (…) I want to apologize very sincerely from the bottom of my humble heart. I repeat once again – very strongly apologize to Mr. Bartholomew, who is bringing in today in his indictment. I am aware and feel the enormous damage that I have done to Mr. Bartholomew through my human weakness, ineptitude, and sinfulness – said Arkadiusz H.

The accused also emphasized that he never wanted to harm anyone. – Human weakness has caused that today, also on the basis of the past months, many thoughts, many prayers, prayers in the spirit and intercessory prayers for the victim, I once again confess my guilt with repentance. And I am asking Mr. Bartholomew to forgive my weaknesses, my sins and I ask for the grace of such fraternal reconciliation – if it is possible – on the part of the person aggrieved by me. I sincerely regret it once again. And I am aware that I have committed so much evil with my weakness and sinfulness towards Mr. Bartłomiej – he claimed.

Right after the trial had begun, the Kalisz curia took the floor. “We apologize to those wronged by the priest” >>>

The victim’s father worked as an organist, curate H. was a friend of the house

In March, the aggrieved party also testified in court. He explained then that his father worked in the church as an organist, so his family knew more closely with the priests working in the parish. Also with Fr. Arkadiusz H., who was a vicar there at the time. – As a “friend of the house” he often visited us, came to us for coffee and tea. He was simply treated as a “friend of the house” – said Mr. Bartłomiej in the courtroom. – It turned out that at that time, me and my brother Jakub became a tasty morsel for Mr. Arkadiusz H., then a vicar priest, to satisfy our sexual needs and our own needs.

– Initially, it started with innocent meetings, but with time these meetings slowly turned into something else. (…) My trust in Mr. H. was increased by buying gifts on his part and showing me, for that time, some kind of love – today I know that this love was false. The gifts were not bought without a reason, the gifts were a pretext to keep the behavior of Mr. H. secret. These behaviors were, as it is in the files, kissing me with a “tongue”, hugging me, putting me on my lap, touching my intimate parts. The next stage was also touching intimate places and stimulating sexual arousal, somehow by these actions, of the accused – he emphasized.

After the film by the Sekielski brothers was broadcast, by the decision of Pope Francis, the late bishop of Kalisz, Edward Janiak, who was to cover the sexual crimes committed by his priests, including Arkadiusz H., was removed from running the diocese. >>>

Main photo source: TVN24

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