Four cases of pedophilia committed by religious have shaken Ecuador in recent years. On a world scale, the Church separated 848 priests in 11 years, for that crime.
Ecuador is no stranger to the scandals of sexual abuse against children committed by priests. The victims do not dare to denounce, therefore the Prosecutor’s Office does not have real statistics of the magnitude of this phenomenon.
From the nineties to the present, 4 cases have been made public in the country, involving priests of the Catholic Church. According to experts and the victims themselves, the rest has not come to light because of the shame of those affected, for fear of reprisals, because they know they will not get justice or because they believe they will have a “divine” punishment.
The cases that came to light in Ecuador
In the 1990s, the arrest of the Guatemalan priest Juan Francisco Aragón Larrazabal, parish priest in the church of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Guayaquil, became news in Ecuador. He was arrested and taken to prison for the crime of raping 3 minors.
However, on December 23, 1991, he was stabbed to death by his cellmate William Mantuano, who was serving a sentence for killing a neighborhood leader in the south of Guayaquil.
The other case was carried out in 2013 by priest Pedro Vicente García, parish priest of the José Obrero church, in the Garay neighborhood, downtown Guayaquil. He was accused of sexually abusing 5 girls in his congregation. Garcia fled and was on the list of the most wanted for sexual crimes. In August of 2017 he was apprehended and in 2018 convicted.
At present, there are 2 ongoing trials: against the priests Luis Fernando I., who worked in Guayaquil, and César C., of Cuenca. Each one faces 3 complaints.
Eugenio Arellano, president of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, confirmed last Thursday to the Public Media that Luis Fernando I. was already expelled from the priesthood, so that he faces the common justice accusations.
The person implicated surrendered his version in the Attorney’s Office of Guayas, but denied all charges. The priest César from Cuenca attracted his victims with candies Jorge P., currently 64 years old, father of 4 children, told the Public Media that for years he lived a “real hell”. A native of Cuenca and of a poor social extract, he indicated that sexual abuse by César C. occurred in the 1960s, when the victim was only 7 years old.
“We were humble, very poor. I entered a scholarship to the school where Father César was a professor. Several children frequented his room because he gave us sweets, he chose the children and he chose me and he raped me.” Jorge said that this meant a total trauma. “I turned away from people, I did not talk to anyone and that was until I left university and also from Cuenca. I always believed that I was the bad guy. ”
He suffered abuse from the priest until he was 14 years old. “I was rescued by a priest, because I told him that in the confession.” Years later he married, had 4 children, but said that the trauma could never overcome him, so he decided to break the silence. He said that more children were victims of this priest and that “everyone in Cuenca (Azuay) knows about it”.
He risked talking when one of his brothers, who had also been raped by the priest, committed suicide at the age of 28. “He could never get over that and he killed himself. That’s when I told my family everything. ” Jorge said he filed the complaint, but because the crime was committed years ago, the case prescribed.
He said he discussed the matter with former President Rafael Correa and that he delegated the case to the then minister José Serrano, who in turn asked the Parochial Board to take charge. However, “those of the Board only issued precautionary measures, including that the priest does not have contact with children, nothing more!”. Despite the fact that the case was denounced in 2010, it was reactivated last April.
Jorge rendered a version in the Office of the Prosecutor and in the Diocese of Cuenca. His aggressor is currently 90 years old, but the objective is that, at least, he recognizes his crimes and repents.
In Guayaquil, clergyman abused during spiritual retreats
Juan B. is currently a young professional who, thanks to the support of his family and friends, was able to get ahead and, somewhat, overcome the sexual abuse of which he was a victim on the part of the priest Luis Fernando I. “Everything happened during a spiritual retreat. That occasion was used by the priest to abuse me, “he said.
He argued that it was very hard to overcome this trauma. “I told my parents and we found that there were several boys in the same situation, so we decided to act and denounce the priest.”
Father Luis Fernando I., apart from Juan’s case, faces 2 more trials. Juan said that they have carried out several sit-ins in Guayaquil and that the only thing they are looking for is “justice”.
The case of the now ex priest is in the preliminary investigation stage. The Catholic Church created a commission to receive the accusations Monsignor Eugenio Arellano, president of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, stressed that although sins are forgiven by God, crimes committed on Earth must be paid.
Therefore, he asked for the maximum rigor of the law for those who abused children. Arellano said that the Episcopal Conference created a few days ago a commission, which will be responsible for receiving the cases involving priests.
“We share what Pope Francis said, that there is no place in the ministry of the Church for those who commit these abuses,” he said. He clarified that the religious have no court order. “Each priest has to be judged with the same rights and guarantees as a common citizen.
In the case of the priests, because of their training, the blame is double. ” Regarding the case of Father César C., Archbishop Arellano informed that the archbishop has already acknowledged the guilt and that the sanction is now expected from the Vatican.
Mayra Soria, prosecutor of the Gender Violence Unit of Pichincha, confirmed what Arellano said that clerics are judged as any civilian. She explained that the conviction for sexual abuse can range from 3 years to 24 years of imprisonment. “Everything depends on the aggression. In the process is where we realize if it is religious or not. We have several cases where citizens of other congregations are involved, “she concluded. (I)