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CRIME

Spain church pledges external probe into child abuse

Spain's Catholic Church said Monday a law firm would carry out an independent investigation into allegations of child abuse involving its clergy as political pressure grows to hold an inquiry.

Spain church pledges external probe into child abuse
Until now, there has never been an official investigation into alleged abuse by members of the clergy, not by Spain's government nor by the Spanish church itself. Photo by JOSEP LAGO / AFP

The legal team will “open an independent channel” to receive complaints, review the legal procedures to punish criminal practices and help the authorities clarify the facts, the CEE Episcopal Conference, which groups Spain’s leading bishops, said in a statement.

The firm, Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo, would also “set up a protection system in line with society’s demands”, the statement said.

Church leaders will further address the matter at a news conference on Tuesday.

Until now, there has never been an official investigation into alleged abuse by members of the clergy, not by Spain’s government nor by the Spanish church itself.

The Church, which has only recognised 220 cases of abuse since 2001, has ruled out “a comprehensive investigation” into reports of abuse.

It said it did not want a “statistical analysis” of the matter and defended its strategy under which each diocese carries out its own probe rather than having an overarching inquiry.

With no official statistics on child sex abuse in a country where 55 percent of the population identifies as Roman Catholic, El Pais newspaper began investigating in 2018 and has since received details of 1,246 cases, some dating back to the 1930s.

The announcement comes as political pressure grows to open an investigation into child abuse by the clergy, with victims accusing the Church of stonewalling and denial.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist party asked parliament to set up an expert committee to investigate child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, which would report its findings to the state ombudsman.

And a few days earlier, lawmakers had also agreed to consider a separate request to open a parliamentary inquiry into the matter.

The political impetus for an investigation came after high-profile Catalan writer Alejandro Palomas went public for the first time about being abused by a priest at his school when he was just eight years old.

In an unusual step, Sanchez reached out to Palomas on Twitter and met with him several days later.

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CRIME

Spanish mother jailed for falsely accusing ex-husband of child abuse

A Spanish court has jailed a woman for five years for repeatedly filing false reports about her ex-husband sexually abusing their daughter.

Spanish mother jailed for falsely accusing ex-husband of child abuse

According to El Mundo daily, the sentence was unprecedented in Spain.

In a ruling handed down by a court in the southern city of Granada which was seen by AFP on Wednesday, the unnamed woman was convicted of filing false allegations, offences against moral integrity and abandonment of parental responsibility.

She was also ordered to pay €40,000 ($42,000) each to the child and her father for the harm caused by her unfounded allegations, which were aimed at securing sole custody of her daughter, now nine.

The court also took away the mother’s parental responsibility for 10 years on grounds she posed “a threat to (her daughter’s) development”, according to court documents dated Monday.

The woman had filed eight reports to the police and the courts over a two-year period, accusing her husband of abuse and on one occasion rape as they were in the throes of getting divorced.

She also took her daughter to be examined by doctors and psychologists on 10 separate occasions.

None of them ever found any evidence of the alleged abuse.

The ongoing gynaecological and psychological examinations had an impact on the child’s “psychological stability and her performance at school”, according to the court documents.

The aim was to “obtain the sole and exclusive custody” of their daughter.

The sentence, which can be appealed, described the mother as a person with a predisposition for “lying” who displayed “shameless cynicism” and “cunning malice with obsessive overtones”.

The couple married in 2010 and had a daughter in 2012. But they split up in 2017 and the problems began a year later when the father, an English teacher, requested joint custody.

After his ex-wife began filing the false allegations against him, he lost most of his students along with his “emotion stability, peace of mind and sense of calm”, the court found.

“It’s like being buried alive,” he told El Mundo.

“It’s trying to kill someone without laying a finger on them… accusing them of the vilest, worst thing that a human being can do: harming your own daughter.”

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