A child sex abuse scandal is unfolding at a school in Argentina where tormentors would allegedly chose their victims knowing the other children wouldn’t hear the screams as they were deaf.
Two Roman Catholic priests are accused of repeatedly raping pupils at the Antonio Provolo Institute for hearing impaired children in Mendoza province.
At least 24 students at the school have come forward seeking the justice against Reverend Nicola Corradi, 82, the Reverend Horacio Cobacho, 55 and four other men.
Handcuffed to a wheelchair, priest Nicola Corradi and the Rev. Horacio Corbacho, left, are escorted to a courtroom in Argentina. They are accused of sexually abusing children at a school for deaf youngsters
Victims and prosecutors say the rapes by the priests took place in the bathrooms, dorms, garden and a basement at the school.
The five were arrested in late November by police who raided the school and found magazines featuring naked women and about $34,000 in Corradi’s room.
All the suspects are being held at a jail in Mendoza and have not spoken publicly since their arrest.
It comes after claims the Vatican knew about Corradi since at least 2009, when pupils at a similar school in Italy went public with tales of shocking abuse against the most vulnerable of children.
In 2014, the Italian victims wrote directly to Pope Francis branding Corradi as a paedophile and flagged that he was living in Francis’ native Argentina. Yet apparently, nothing was done.
The two Roman Catholic priests are accused of repeatedly raping pupils at the Antonio Provolo Institute, pictured, for hearing impaired children in Mendoza province
One of the Mendoza victims said: ‘From the pope down … all of the Catholic Church hierarchy is the same. They all knew.
While another victim said the priests would rape again if released adding: ‘This happened in Italy … it happened again here, and it must end. Enough!’
Prosecutor Fabrizio Sidoti says he is expecting more than 20 other people to provide testimony and more victims to come forward.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis has not spoken publicly about the case and the Vatican declined to comment.
Victims and prosecutors say the rapes by the priests took place in the bathrooms, dorms, garden and a basement at the school (file picture)
Advocates of sex abuse victims by priests question how Francis could have been unaware of Corradi’s misdeeds, given he was publicly named by the Italy victims.
Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability, an online resource about clerical abuse, said: ‘No other pope has spoken as passionately about the evil of child sex abuse as Francis. No other pope has invoked ‘zero tolerance’ as often. No other pope has promised accountability of church superiors.
‘In light of the crimes against the helpless children in Mendoza, the Pope’s assurances seem empty indeed.’
Earlier this month, the Pontiff appeared in a video using sign language to wish deaf people worldwide a Merry Christmas — a gesture that fell particularly flat in Argentina as Catholics struggle with the enormity of the scandal.
The Provolo case first exploded in Italy in 2009, when the Italian victims went public with stories of abuse after what they said were three useless years of negotiations with the diocese of Verona, where the institute has its Italy headquarters.
The 67 victims alleged sexual abuse, paedophilia and corporal punishment at the hands of priests, brothers and lay religious from the 1950s to the 1980s.
At the time, 14 of the victims wrote sworn statements and videotaped their testimony detailing the abuse they suffered. They named 24 priests, lay religious and religious brothers in a list that was published online.
Corradi was one of those included in the list, which specified he was in Argentina at that time.
In 2010, the Vatican ordered the Verona diocese to investigate the claims. One of the victims named Corradi during the inquiry. But he apparently was never sanctioned. Five other accused were.
However, unlike the Verona case, the alleged crimes in Mendoza have not expired due to the statute of limitations and could lead to up to 50-year jail sentences for a conviction.