ROSARIO, Argentina – On Monday begins the trial against two priests and a layman who worked at a Catholic school for youth with hearing disabilities, the Antonio Provolo institute, who allegedly abused several of their students. On Friday, the local archdiocese released a statement saying that they too want “truth and justice.”

“The whole church of Mendoza wants to transmit, once again, its solidarity and closeness to those who’ve denounced having suffered the most aberrant crimes,” says the statement released by the Archdiocese of Mendoza’s press office. “What these people have recounted has horrified, with reason, the entire society of Mendoza. We have experienced it as such in our Christian communities.”

The Catholic institute is in Lujan de Cuyo, some 13 miles from Mendoza, and belongs to the Civil Association of San Jose, not the archdiocese.

The priests who will face trial are Nicola Corradi, 83, and Horacio Corbacho, 59. The layman, Armando Gomez, 49, was the institute’s gardener. A second trial, against Japanese Sister Kosaka Kumiko is scheduled for a later date, and a third one will try the former legal representative of the institute, Graciela Pascual and another 12 accused.

Corradi and Corbacho are accused of rape and corruption of minors in 28 instances, with victims from 4 to 17 years of age. They could each get 50 years in prison.

Former altar man Jorge Bordon, 50, confessed last year to 11 charges of abuse and was sentenced to 10 years in prison during an abbreviated trial.

Corbacho, Bordon and Gomez are already in prison, while Corradi, Kumiko and Pascual are under house arrest. Corradi was first accused of sexually abusing minors 50 years ago in Verona, Italy, where the Antonio Provolo institutes originated.

The Vatican has known about Corradi since 2009, when the Italian Provolo students went public with accusations of abuse and named names. The Vatican ordered an investigation and sanctioned four accused priests.

If Corradi was ever sanctioned by the Vatican, this didn’t become public nor did it stop him from transferring to Mendoza, where he reportedly continued to abuse young students.

The first trial is expected to last a month, and prosecutors will present the evidence collected during the more than two years-long investigation. Some 200 people are expected to testify in a trial that will be closed to the press as it involves the sexual abuse of minors.

In its statement, the archdiocese of Mendoza said that religious and lay people of the diocese were “disconcerted and hurt” by the facts, and that they believe “the action of the justice system is essential to clarify them, establish responsibilities and the corresponding sanctions.”

It concludes, “as part of the people of Mendoza, we want truth and justice.”

Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma


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