Photo Credits: Angelus News
The Guardian reports that a court in Argentina has convicted two Roman Catholic priests and the former gardener of a church-run school for deaf students on 28 counts of sexual abuse and corruption of minors, in a case that has shaken the church in Pope Francis’s homeland.
A three-judge panel in the city of Mendoza sentenced Nicola Corradi to 42 years and Horacio Corbacho to 45 years for abusing children at the Antonio Provolo Institute for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Children in Lujan de Cuyo, a municipality in north-western Argentina. The gardener at the school, Armando Gómez, was also sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Two priests were arrested in 2016 and they are found guilty of 20 counts of abuse that occurred between 2005 and 2016 at the school, which has since shut down. All victims were minors at the time of the abuse.
“The horror of Provolo is twofold: the torture of the children and the church’s failure to prevent it. We hope the prosecutors now will launch a criminal investigation of the archbishops and other church leaders who knew or should have known that the school was being run by a child molester,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-founder of the online research database BishopAccountability.org, to the Associated Press.
After the sentence was delivered, several of the victims expressed their joy in the courthouse hallway by jumping and raising their arms in the air, as if they were clapping. They also embraced the prosecutors who had investigated their cases.
“I am happy, thank you so much for the battle, because everyone has supported us ... This has changed my life, which is evolving,” said Vanina Garay, 26.
Corradi had been previously accused of similar offences at a sister agency, the Antonio Provolo Institute in Verona, Italy, but was never charged. Ten years ago, the Vatican had known about Corradi when 67 people said they were abused at the Verona institute by 24 priests. The Vatican ordered an investigation and sanctioned four accused priests, but Corradi apparently never was sanctioned in Italy.
In a statement, the Archbishopric of Mendoza expressed “solidarity and closeness with the victims and their families, who have reported suffering the most aberrant mistreatment” and vowed to “keep working to ensure that these situations are not repeated.”
“The Argentine court has given the traumatized children of Provolo a measure of justice that the Catholic church failed to give them,” concluded Anne Barrett Doyle.