Defamation case against Fr Charles Fenech heard behind closed doors

Defamation case brought against Fr Charles Fenech, the priest accused of sexually abusing a woman.

Fr Charles Fenech emerges from the law courts in Valletta accompanied by his lawyers
Fr Charles Fenech emerges from the law courts in Valletta accompanied by his lawyers
Criminal defamation case against Fr Charles Fenech being heard behind closed doors. Video: Chris Mangion

Fr Charles Fenech, the priest accused of sexually abusing a woman, today appeared in another court case brought against him, heard behind closed doors.

The criminal defamation case, filed on a report by Edgar Bonnici Cachia, is also being heard behind closed doors.

Upon emerging from the court, Fenech refused to reply to questions put to him by the press as to whether he had any comments to make on the grave accusations filed against him.

Fenech is facing charges of violent sexual abuse against a mentally unstable patient and holding the woman against her will and committing indecent acts in public.

One of Fenech’s alleged victims who spoke to MaltaToday on condition of anonymity, said that though the Church has known about the allegations for years, Fenech has never been removed from his position as director of the Kerygma Movement.

The victim, who will testify in court against Fenech as a witness for the woman who filed the charges, alleged that Fenech “targeted vulnerable women” and that she knows of at least 15 other women who claim to have fallen for Fenech’s advances.

Fenech, who has been a Dominican friar for the last 28 years has spent most of his priesthood surrounded by young people who flock to the numerous spiritual, cultural, educational and sports events organised by the Kerygma Movement he founded in 1984.

“I was in a very vulnerable state and I found Fr Charles Fenech’s attentions as my spiritual director soothing. He would buy me expensive gifts and write love letters and after a short while, in the vulnerable state I was, he convinced me that he loved me.”

Although the woman said that she did not have full sexual intercourse with Fenech, they did engage in non-penetrative sex. The relationship went on for around a year, until the woman “felt strong enough and had the support to move away”.

Charges were filed against the priest and in May 2013. But 18 months after the charges were filed proceedings have not commenced as his lawyers Michael and Lucio Sciriha presented medical certificates on three occasions.

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