OECUSSE, East Timor (AP) — A defrocked American priest went on trial Tuesday to face charges he sexually abused young girls at his shelter for orphans and children from impoverished families, marking the first clergy sex case to emerge in East Timor — the most Catholic place in the world outside the Vatican.

Richard Daschbach, 84, a former missionary from Pennsylvania, is facing 14 counts of sexual abuse of children under 14 years old, as well as one count each of child pornography and domestic violence, according to the country’s Prosecutor General.

Police presence was heavy at the small courthouse near the beach, as some 100 supporters of the former priest showed up but were denied entry to the courtroom for the closed proceedings.

Devout followers in the young country of 1.3 million — 97% of whom are Catholic — have been sharply divided by the case, with some families and politicians pitted against one another and tensions so high accusers fear they will be targeted by violence if publicly identified.

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