An Argentine court convicted two Catholic priests and a former gardener of sexually abusing deaf children at a church-run school in Mendoza on Monday, in a case that has been closely watched in part because it took place in the homeland of Pope Francis.
One of the defendants, the Rev. Nicola Bruno Corradi Soliman, is an Italian priest. He served as the director of the Provolo Institute in Mendoza — which ran the school — despite having faced previous accusations of sexual abuse at the organization’s facilities in Verona, Italy, and in La Plata, Argentina.
Mr. Corradi, 83, was sentenced to 42 years in prison, and another priest, the Rev. Horacio Hugo Corbacho Blanck, 59, of Argentina, was sentenced to 45 years in prison. A former gardener at the school, Armando Ramón Gómez Bravo, 49, of Argentina, received a sentence of 18 years.
The three defendants had each faced numerous charges and had been in prison or under house arrest since the allegations came to light three years ago. Mr. Corbacho was the only one of the three to testify; he denied the charges, and the other two defendants did not testify, according to Gustavo Stroppiana, the prosecutor in the case.
An attorney for the three defendants, Alicia Arlotta, declined to comment on Monday. “I have decided not to issue any opinions of any nature, which is what I’ve done since I’ve been in charge of the defense,” she said in a WhatsApp message.
Nine of the 10 victims attended Monday’s proceeding, said Oscar Barrera, a lawyer for some of the victims. In testimony, victims said they were assaulted when they were students, from 2005 to 2016, at the now-shuttered school in Luján de Cuyo, near the city of Mendoza, lawyers for the victims said. They are now in their teens or 20s.
Mr. Stroppiana said in an interview on Monday that “we are satisfied with the sentence.”
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SOURCE: The New York Times, Daniel Politi and Karen Zraick