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Poland: Spokesman for Church sexual abuse victims forced to resign amid scandal

Warsaw, Poland – Marek Lisinki, the founder and head of the Polish organization “Have No Fear”, has been one of the most high-profile and vocal spokesmen for victims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Poland.

Polish advocate for victims of pedophile priests forced to step down

But as the Associated Press reports, M. Lisinski was forced to step down “after allegations surfaced that he extorted money from a victim and demanded money from producers of a documentary about clerical abuse”

According to Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, who first echoed those allegations in a report published on Thursday citing private messages between the two parties, Marek Lisinski extorted up to 7.000 euros from a pedophile priest’s victim, only identified as 26-year-old Katarzyna, on the (allegedly false) pretense he was suffering from pancreatic cancer.

To defend himself, M. Lisinski claimed he only borrowed the money.

The “Have No Fear” NGO, which announced that their president resigned from his post, launched an internal investigation into the allegations against Marek Lisinski, a vocal advocate who headed a delegation to the Vatican in February to present a report on child sexual abuse in Poland to Pope Francis.

Shock documentary director claims Lisinski also asked for money

To add fuel to the fire, Tomasz Sekiekski, the co-author of a recently-released shock documentary on Polish priests’ sexual abuse, also claimed M. Lisinski asked him for 50.000 zlotys (around 12.000 euros) to take part to the film – a request that was turned down by the director.

The documentary “Tell No One” has sparked a nation-wide outcry regarding the Polish clergy’s pedophilia problem and has been viewed nearly 22 million times since its release on May 11. It also comes several months after a feature movie, Kler, lifted the veil on the rampant corruption and sexual abuse scandals of the clergy in one of Europe’s most devout nations.

Poland struggles to cope with pedophilia and sexual abuse scandals in Church

The Vatican’s top investigator on child sexual abuse, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, is due to visit Poland this month and attend the Conference of Polish bishops in a sign of growing pressure regarding Poland’s failure to address clergy pedophilia.

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, known for its close ties to the clergy, has been in full damage-control mode in recent months, with PiS chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski recently vowing to tighten the legislation on child sexual abuse crimes, including for priests and bishops.

And while Poland’s Catholic Church unveiled, in March, a report admitting to the sexual abuse of hundreds of children since the 1990’s, critics claim that the late mea-culpa grossly underestimates the extent of the problem and fails to address the responsibility of top bishops in covering up abuse scandals for years.