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ARGENTINA | 06-09-2018 18:18

La Plata: Instituto Antonio Próvolo school for deaf raided in clerical abuse probe

Allegations dating back 30 years at the Instituto Antonio Próvolo in the city of La Plata prompt action. Around 17 individuals are believed to have denounced abuse at the hands of members of the clergy.

Authorities have raided a Catholic-run school for youths with hearing disabilities in La Plata, as part of an investigation into shocking sexual abuse allegations involving at least 17 vulnerable children.

A police official in Buenos Aires Province said officers seized documents from the archives of the Instituto Antonio Próvolo in the city of La Plata. The allegations date back more than 30 years.

The official, who was not authorised to speak publicly about the case, agreed to give the Associated Press details of the operation on condition of anonymity.

The raid was ordered by a local prosecutor, Cecilia Cordfield, part of a specialised unit focusing on people-trafficking and paedophilia, who is investigating "possible crimes against sexual integrity," the official said.

The documents cover a period of 1987 to 2018, the official said.

Officials at the institute could not be reached despite repeated attempts for comment.

Clerical abuse scandals have also marred other Próvolo institutes.

At one of its schools in Luján de Cuyo, northwestern Mendoza province, at least 20 children say they were abused by priest Nicola Corradi, priest Horacio Corbacho and three other men, who were arrested in 2016. Dozens of students of the institute in Italy say they were similarly abused for decades, some allegedly by Corradi.

The Vatican knew about Corradi since at least 2009, when the Italian Próvolo students went public with tales of abuse and named names.

The Vatican ordered an investigation and sanctioned four accused priests, but Corradi apparently never was sanctioned for his alleged crimes in Italy.

The Verona diocese apologised to the Italian students in 2012. After the students again named Corradi as an abuser living in Pope Francis' native Argentina in a 2014 letter to the pontiff and the Verona bishop, the Vatican still took no action. In 2016, a Vatican official said Francis wanted to assure the victims that the church was taking measures to protect children and prevent sexual abuse.

Unlike the Verona case, the statute of limitations has not expired for the alleged crimes in Mendoza, which could lead to prison sentences of up to 50 years for a conviction.

- AP/TIMES

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