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Former Hong Kong Priest to Appear In Court On Sexual Abuse Charges

Jun 5, 2002 | AP

A former priest has been charged with sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy in 1994 and will appear in court on Thursday, a police spokeswoman said.

Michael Lau, 42, is the only suspect so far to be arrested in a child sex abuse scandal that has engulfed Hong Kong's Roman Catholic church with at least eight cases allegedly involving pedophile priests. The others are still under investigation.

Lau has been charged with three counts of indecent assault and one count of procuring an act of gross indecency, police spokeswoman Suzanne Lee said Wednesday.

He was arrested at his home on May 4, after a man complained to police, accusing the former priest of abusing him eight years ago.

Officers detained Lau and questioned him overnight, but he was released on bail the next day.

Lau was defrocked in 1995 after the church found in an internal investigation that he had sexually molested a boy twice, but church officials did not report his case — or any of the others — to police, which prompted heavy public criticisms.

Since then, the church had pledged to adopt a "zero tolerance" policy toward child sex abuse which includes helping the police in their investigations.

The church had said earlier that one of the alleged abuse cases occurred in another country before the priest was transferred to Hong Kong and that at least two of the accused priests have moved away, one to Canada and one to Australia.

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