Priest and judge admit child sex offences

They're not the first and they won't be the last, but such stories always arouse exasperation nevertheless.

A Malmö priest has been defrocked for chatting on the internet to ’14 year old girls’ and a judge in West Sweden has been charged with having pornographic images of children on his computer.

The priest was asked to resign his office at a meeting with Bishop of Lund, Christina Odenberg, on Friday. On Monday, the Church authorities formally declared the priest disqualified from “performing church services”.

The priest, who is 52, married and with children of school age, has not committed any crime. But when Bishop Odenberg was presented with evidence of sexually explicit chat room conversations between the priest and two ’14 year old girls’, she felt she had no choice but to take action. She said:

“This is a terrible tragedy, but there was no alternative. He has committed a grave breech of his vows as a priest and of the principles which a priest in the Swedish Church must stand for.”

The priest was caught by Mats Andersson, commissioned by the council in Trelleborg to investigate child pornography on the internet. Sounding almost as contrite as his victim, Andersson told Expressen:

“Yes, I described myself as a 14 year old girl. But I was careful not to introduce any sexual content into the conversation. The priest did that himself. He became increasingly vulgar and pornographic. When he revealed his identity and his fantasies and wanted to arrange a meeting, I contacted the Bishop of Lund with my information.”

The priest himself admitted what he’d done and is deeply remorseful. Expressen quoted comments he gave to Kvällsposten:

“What I’ve done is terrible. I can’t explain my actions. It’s unforgiveable. I can’t defend it. I can’t blame my behaviour on anything else. I understand that the Bishop had to take action.”

Sydsvenska Dagbladet revealed on Wednesday that, although the priest has been excluded by the Swedish Church from its priesthood, he is still employed by them. His case must be finally resolved in consultation with the priest’s union, according to the Church’s administrative director, Torgny Werger.

“This is a difficult situation for him,” Werger said, before observing that there are limited job opportunities for theologians outside the Swedish Church.

Meanwhile, in west Sweden, a judge has been charged by prosecutors with having hundreds of pornographic pictures and a video film on his computer. The judge reportedly admits the facts of the case.

Chief prosecutor in Borås, Urban Stenkvist, told news agency TT:

“It was for personal interest and curiosity. He realised it was a crime.”

The case came to light when the judge’s old computer was stolen following a break-in in his basement. Shortly afterwards, he received blackmail threats regarding the pornographic material.

Police have also found child pornography on the judge’s new computer, which had been re-formatted. This can mean that pornographic material has been deleted. The pictures are being analysed by the police’s national child pornography team.

Sources: SVT, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen, Göteborgs Posten