Tarnów. A judge associated with the Church will rule in a pedophilia case? Victims want to replace him


The deputy head of a Catholic foundation and an acquaintance of a high-ranking clergyman, and at the same time a judge from Tarnów, is to rule on the compensation that former altar boys are demanding from the local diocese. It concerns 12 million złoty – the highest compensation in the history of the Polish Church, which the wronged parties are demanding from the curia. The case concerns Father Marian W., accused of molestation, whose second trial has already started in the spring.

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After four years of trial against Father Marian W., accused of sexually abusing minors, the case has started again. In the spring of this year, the court in Tarnów reopened it. Previously, it had been examined by the court in Nowy Targ.

Marian W.'s victims were supposed to be 22 boys. He is answerable in court for the acts committed against 11 of them – the rest, as reported by “Gazeta Wyborcza”, have already expired.

Record lawsuit filed against diocese for covering up pedophilia

The drama of the former altar boys lasted for years, and the priest himself was transferred from parish to parish. He stayed in each of them for a short time. – The bishop probably knew a lot, a lot earlier about the behavior of Father Marian – said the attorney for the victims, Jarosław Głuchowski, in a conversation with Renata Kijowska in the material of “Fakty” TVN24.

Eight people sued the Tarnów Curia, demanding record compensation in the Polish Church. This amounts to a total of 12 million zlotys.

SEE THE MATERIAL OF “FAKTY” TVN: “Touching the genitals, around the crotch”. Former altar boys want 12 million złoty in compensation from the curia

Marek Syrek, a judge of the District Court in Tarnów, was assigned to the case. As the attorney for the injured parties, now adult men, Artur Nowak, informed us, this judge is the vice president of the Tarnów Cordare Foundation. The head of this foundation is, in turn, a “prominent representative of the Tarnów diocese”, Father Robert Biel. For this reason, the attorney filed a complaint with the court, demanding a new judge.

In May – for the same reason – attorney Głuchowski requested the replacement of the judge. However, he presented a different argument than attorney Nowak. The court did not consider the complaint – judge Syrek was to rule. Now the court will deal with the second complaint.

– The case seems obvious. The judge has relations with a high-ranking curialist. The founder of the foundation, Father Biel, is subordinate to the bishop who represents the defendant. It is obvious that he proposed cooperation to the judge because he knows him, which the judge does not deny. This situation raises doubts as to the judge's impartiality – the lawyer for the injured parties said in an interview with tvn24.pl.

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Attorney Artur Nowak added that “public figures, due to the systemic procedure of covering up paedophilia in the Church, should consider whether to sit on social organizations associated with the Church”. – This lowers their authority. Let me remind you that Bishop Jeż (his name is given in the Tarnów Curia's announcements on this matter – ed.) from the Tarnów diocese is accused of covering up paedophilia – the lawyer noted.

Father Robert Biel was previously the episcopal vicar for religious affairs. “In 2003 he was also appointed to the Council of Priests of the Tarnów Diocese, and in 2010 to the Bishop's Council,” notes attorney Nowak in his complaint filed to the District Court in Tarnów.

Father Marian W. accused of pedophilia

Father Marian W.'s superiors had known about his actions since at least 2013, but they sent him on leave then. It was not until five years later, after a change in regulations, that the case was reported to the prosecutor's office. Marian W. was dismissed from the clergy in July 2022.

Read also: Polish priest charged in UK with child sex offences

The Tarnów Curia admitted in a statement released to the media: “we are aware that the enormous harm done to minors through molestation is irreversible and affects their entire future lives”. However, the Curia's position is clear: “it is difficult to hold the entire community of the diocese collectively responsible for a crime committed by specific people. It is as if all residents were held responsible for the damage caused by an arsonist” – we can read in the Curia's position.

In 2020, the Tarnów diocese issued a statement indicating that “the reporting person – then already an adult – was informed of the right to report the matter to the police, but refused to file a report. At the same time, we would like to emphasize that in 2013, this was the only reported case in relation to Fr. Marian W., which the curia treated extremely seriously, acting in accordance with the provisions of canon law.” In the canonical process, Fr. Marian W. was “deprived of his church offices, banned from working with children and youth, removed from pastoral work, placed under the care of the diocesan curator, and also referred for treatment.”

In 2018, the curia received another report of abuse. At that time, the bishop's delegate – as reported by the curia – notified the police about the case. “I would like to emphasize that the Tarnów curia took all steps required by both state and church law in the case of Fr. Marian W.,” wrote in 2020 the spokesman for the bishop of Tarnów, Fr. Ryszard Nowak.

Gazeta Wyborcza, “Fakty” TVN, tvn24.pl

Main image source: Shutterstock

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