Argentina sentences Catholic priests to decades in prison over sexual abuse of deaf children

The abuse of nearly 20 students between 2004 and 2016 in an institute for the hearing-impaired came into light in 2016.

Argentine priest Horacia Corbacho,59, and Italian priest Nicola Corradi, 83, were sentenced to more than 40 years in prison for sexual abuse of deaf children. The abuse of nearly 20 students between 2004 and 2016 in the Provolo Institute for the hearing-impaired in Mendoza came into light in 2016.

The priests' trial began on August 5. Corbacho was sentenced to 45 years in jail and Corradi was given 42 years of jail time on Monday. The trial saw 13 victims from the institute providing evidence through camera hearings. The sentences cannot be appealed.

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Victims and relatives of children who claim they were sexually abused by the Catholic Church hold placards as they stand outside the venue for Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney, Australia, February 29, 2016. Reuters

The two Roman Catholic priests were held in preventive detention since the issue came into the light three years ago. The court has monitored two facts that were important in sentencing the priests. The circumstances of the case were such that the priests should have been responsible for the children's well-being and the victims were minors.

The institution's gardener, Armando Gomez, and several other members were taken in as a part of the case. The gardener was arrested on sexual abuse charges and will be serving 18 years in jail. Apart from the gardener, a 42-year-old Japanese nun Kosaka Kumiko was also charged with complicity with the priests.

Reaction to the Verdict

People hold quilts at a press conference outside of Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels for victims of sexual abuse
Picture for representation Reuters

The verdict in the case brought tears to the eyes of the victims' families, who were seen hugging each other. The young crowd gathered outside the court cheered as they heard the verdict. The defendants didn't make any comment on the verdict.

Many analyses look at the stain this verdict is going to bring to the Roman Catholic Church. The question has been as to why it took the police and the justice system, not the church, to shut down the institution and hold the abusers responsible.