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Third Catholic teacher admits to sexual abuse in Barcelona

A third teacher at a school run by a Roman Catholic order in Barcelona has confessed to having sexually abused students in a video released Monday, deepening one of Spain's biggest paedophile scandals.

Third Catholic teacher admits to sexual abuse in Barcelona
Stock image of rosary and bible. Photo: Roger Smith / Flickr

The man, who is in his 70s and was identified only by his initials A.F., can be heard in the video recorded with a hidden camera apologising to one of the victims he abused in the 1980s.

“I don't know why I did it…it was like a child's game,” he says in the video posted on the website of Barcelona-based daily newspaper El Periodico de Catalunya which masked his face.

The victim said he was sexually abused by the former teacher dozens of times when he was 8-14 years old. His allegations were not refuted by the former teacher.

The abuse took place at a Marist school in Les Corts, a Barcelona neighbourhood, at the centre of a paedophile scandal which erupted in February after the paper published the confession of a former gym teacher who said he had sexually abused his students.

The teacher spoke to the newspaper before being questioned by a judge who is investigating complaints of sexual abuse filed by five families against him.  

The newspaper article triggered a wave of fresh complaints. There are now a total of 29 complaints against six former teachers from three Marist schools in Barcelona.

Three of the former teachers, including the man featured in the video released on Monday, have confessed.

The Archbishop of Barcelona, Juan Jose Omella, apologised to the victims,  in an interview published on Sunday in El Periodico de Catalunya.

The Marist community – a Roman Catholic teaching order – did not know of the abuse until now and followed the protocols in place as to how to deal with such cases, he added.

The scandal has caused outrage in Spain, where there have been few sexual abuse scandals involving the Church.

The biggest case to date erupted at the end of 2014 when a former altar boy complained of having been molested as a child by priests in the southern city of Cordoba, in a case which drew the attention of Pope Francis who was vowed “zero” tolerance for paedophilia.

Ten Catholic priests and two laymen were initially charged over the case, although eventually charges were dropped against all but one of them, on the grounds that too much time had passed since the alleged crimes took place.

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ABUSE

Spanish court acquits Granada priest accused of sexually abusing teenage altar boys

A Spanish court on Tuesday acquitted a Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a teenage altar boy, in a case in which Pope Francis had pushed for an investigation.

Spanish court acquits Granada priest accused of sexually abusing teenage altar boys
Photo: diego_cervo/Depositphotos

The court in the southern city of Granada, where the abuse was alleged to have taken place, ruled there was insufficient evidence against 63-year-old Roman Martinez.

It said the young man's testimony during the trial held in March had inconsistencies and contained “absolutely improbable aspects”.   

Martinez had been charged with “continued sexual abuse, with the introduction of a bodily member anally and attempt to introduce the penis” involving an underage boy between 2004 and 2007.

His accuser, born in 1990, would have been 14 when the alleged abuse began.   

According to the court ruling he met the priest in “1998 or 1999” at a local church and became a close friend, sometimes sleeping at the parochial house where the clergyman lived.

Before turning to the courts, the young man in August 2014 sent a letter to Pope Francis describing the abuse he said he suffered at the hands of the accused and his entourage.

The letter described “constant kissing, massages and masturbation”, according to the court.

Pope Francis told reporters in November 2014 that he heard of the case “with great pain, very great pain, but the truth is the truth and we should not hide it” and said he had ordered a church investigation.

After the scandal broke, the Archbishop of Granada, Francisco Javier Martinez, removed some priests linked to the case from their duties.   

During a mass in November he threw himself on the cathedral floor, in front of the altar, in a gesture of apology to abuse victims.   

The court had initially charged ten Catholic priests and two laymen over the affair.

But in February 2015 it dropped charges against 11 of the 12 suspects because it said legally too much time had passed between the alleged crimes and the complaints being made.

It said their accuser should have brought a case within three years of turning 18.

The lawyer for the main accuser said his client had been unable to report the crime until he had moved out of Granada.   

Many survivors of abuse by priests are angry at what they see as the Vatican's failure to punish senior officials who have been accused of covering up scandals.

Prodeni, an association that defends abused children that took part in the proceedings, told AFP it could file an appeal. The Vatican has also ordered an investigation, it said.