news 19 Apr 13

Bosnian Serb Bishop Faces Sex Abuse Charges

Two Serbian Orthodox priests plan to sue Bishop Kacavenda of Tuzla and Zvornik for sexually abusing them, their lawyer said.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Lawyer Dusko Tomic on April 18 said that Vasilije Kacavenda, Bishop of Tuzla and Zvornik, had numerous questions to answer and that the Serbian people and Orthodox Church could not take the shame of such scandals any longer.

The story erupted when the Serbian daily Blic said it had seen pornographic videos in which Bishop Kacavenda was allegedly involved in sexual acts with several young men.

“The Church has been losing its reputation because of Kacavenda for years,” Tomic told the Anadolu news agency. “The Serbian Church cannot take this shame anymore - this kind of immoral behaviour.”

Tomic also said two priests had contacted him, asking him to launch a case against Bishop Kacavenda.

“The two priests charge him with sexual abuse, so along with a criminal report there will be a lawsuit,” Tomic said. “I think that will put an end to Kacavenda.”

Last week police arrested a priest named Nikolaj Stamatovic near Bijeljina, the seat of the diocese, in what Tomic said was a case related to the Kacavenda allegations.

The arrested priest, along with another young man, allegedly tried to sell a highly compromising video featuring the Bishop for 100,000 euro to Bojan Jovanovic, a former Serbian Orthodox priest who pretended to be interested in buying it in order to start an investigation.

Blic reported that there was more than one video of Kacavenda engaged in inappropriate acts.

Tomic said that Kacavenda's withdrawal from active service last year was not due to illness but due to mounting sexual scandals.

“I've seen the video myself and I will talk to the man who filmed it and he will give me information whom he filmed,” he said.

Bishop Kacavenda had a controversial reputation before the alleged sex scandal broke out last week.

This relates to his close involvement with and support for the Bosnian Serb army during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia and Herzgovina.

Kacavenda was seen as close to the indicted Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, and is remembered for his anti-Muslim propaganda and for blessing young soldiers going to war against non-Serbs.

For the purposes of building an imposing church and monastery in Bijeljina, where he moved the centre of the diocese from Tuzla, he also reportedly had several Muslim houses razed.

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