Pope Ignored Child Sex Abuse Epidemic at Schools for Deaf Children, Report
Child abuse spanned from 1950s to the 1980s Antonio Provolo Institute for deaf children
Pope Francis along with high ranking Vatican officials ignored child sex abuse allegations in three Catholic schools for deaf children but failed to punish those involved, according to a Washington Post investigation.
The allegations first emerged in 2006 which led to the arrest of Italian priest Nicola Corradi in 2016.
Corradi was believed to be the 'ringleader' of the abuse.
A fourth two suspects have charges pending while a 14th has already been sentenced to 10 years in jail for rape and sexual abuse.
The child abuse spanned through the 1950s to the 1980s at the Antonio Provolo Institute for the Deaf in Verona, Italy.
It also began in Argentina at Provolo schools in Lujan de Cuyo and La Plata in the 1980s.
The allegations include countless cases of sexual crimes against children as young as seven years old, according to the Washington Post.
According to the Prosecutors, children were raped, tied up, fondled and even forced to wear diapers to hide bleeding.
The children's limited ability to communicate made them easy victims for the pedophile priests while some were even punished for using sign language furthering their silence.
One of the hand gestures used by pedophile priest was an index [finger] to lips - meaning a 'demand for silence.'
The priests escaped punishment.
More victims came forward after a man named Dario Laiti led filed accusations against the church.
According to public statements, the victims named 24 priests and another clergy at the school as abusers.
The Bishops then accused victims of lying and sued s sued for defamation, alerting the Vatican to the allegations.
According to the reports from Slate: In 2010, the Vatican asked the diocese to investigate the accusations, and the diocese brought in a retired judge named Mario Sannite to lead the investigation.
Samnite found most of the allegations credible but cast doubt on the former student who accused Corradi.
According to the Post, it was clear these accusations were known at the highest level of the Vatican.
In 2013, the year Francis was chosen to lead the church, and again in 2014, the victims sent a letter to the pope with a list of 14 alleged abusers.
They did not hear back from the Vatican, and in 2015, a group of victims and advocates traveled to Rome with hopes of meeting the pope.
Two of them—including a man who said he had been raped hundreds of times by a priest when he was a boy in the late 1990s—were able to personally hand Francis a letter with the abusers’ names.
Four months later, one of Francis’ close associates in the Vatican wrote the group a letter saying Francis “welcomed with lively participation what you wanted to confide in Him” but reminding the group “of what the Holy See has done and keeps on doing with an unwavering commitment on clerical sexual abuses.”
But in the following years, the local bishop maintained that the group of victims—he later speculated that they were behind the Argentina allegations as well—were after the Provolo schools’ property.
And after the Vatican investigation, only one priest, ordered to a life of penance and prayer, was punished.
The accusations arose later in Argentina, where the most recent alleged abuse occurred in 2016.
But they did lead to criminal prosecutions.
In 2016, an anonymous woman who had attended the school in Lujan went to a state senator with her allegations.
Two days later, prosecutors raided the school and found pornography and damning letters implicating a 58-year-old Argentine priest.
The authorities shut down the school that year, and they launched an investigation into the La Plata school, where they also found allegations of abuse against at least five men who worked there, including Corradi.
The prosecutors allege Corradi, who is still under house arrest and who has not yet entered a plea, helped other predators at the school access the children.
According to the Post, Francis appointed a bishop to oversee the Provolo schools after the scandal.
That bishop, Alberto Germán Bochatey, has said the lawyers representing the victims had overstated the allegations.
“They try to build a big case that [it was a] house of horrors, 40 or 50 cases, but there are little more than 10,” he told the Post. He also said he believed the Freemasons were behind the allegations.
This week, Francis will gather a summit of prominent bishops from around the country to discuss the church’s sex abuse crisis.