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ARGENTINA | 29-08-2023 11:15

Prosecutor seeks up to 18 years for defendants in third Próvolo Institute abuse trial

Four others have already been convicted of committing sexual abuse against minors with hearing loss, including priests Horacio Corbacho and Nicola Corradi.

A prosecutor has requested lengthy prison sentences for two former employees of the Antonio Próvolo Institute for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Children in Luján de Cuyo for facilitating the sexual abuse of minors.

In what is the third trial investigating criminal wrongdoing at the school for children with hearing disabilities, Mendoza Prosecutor Alejandro Iturbe this week asked that two defendants, former legal representative Graciela Pascual and nun Asunción Martínez, be sentenced to 18 years and 10 years in prison respectively. 

Iturbe asked the court’s judges back in May to sentence Japanese nun Kumiko Kosaka to 25 years in jail for “aggravated sexual abuse and corruption of minors.” 

The prosecutor has also requested that all three individuals be disqualified from holding educational and housing positions where minors are involved for at least 10 years.

The allegations relate to denunciations by 10 former students at the school, who were victims of sexual abuse over a 12-year spell that began in 2004.

In a separate trial in November 2019, two Catholic priests were each sentenced to more than 40 years in prison each for leading the abuse of deaf and mute children.

Italian priest Nicola Corradi was handed 42 years behind bars while Argentine priest Horacio Corbacho was given 45 years jail time. 

The institution's gardener, Armando Gómez, was also jailed for 18 years for sexual abuse. 

In this new trial, both Pascual and Martínez are accused of being direct participants in the abuse, with prosecutors arguing they breached their duty of care to the victims. 

Nine women in total are suspects in the investigation. 

Prosecutor Iturbe has also requested three-year suspended prison sentences for the Próvolo Institute’s former head teacher, Gladys Pinacca, and school cook Noemí Paz. 

However, he did not press charges against the other defendants named in the case-file. These names include the school’s former head teachers Valeska Quintana, Laura Gateán, Cristina Leguiza, as well as psychologist Cecilia Raffo. As a result, the court will now decide whether to terminate criminal proceedings against the four and order their acquittal.

Hearings in the case are due to continue on Wednesday (August 30) when the defendants’ lawyers will deliver their opening statements to the court.

More than 300 hearings have taken place during this latest trial, which started on May 3, 2021. Testimony has been heard from more than 100 people, including whistle-blowers.

 

Instigators

Corbacho is seen as the main defendant, due to his hierarchical status at the institute. He was found guilty of aggravated carnal abuse, taking advantage of his cohabitation with the minors and duty of care. He is currently behind bars at a prison in Boulogne Sur Mer, Mendoza, serving his lengthy sentence.

Corradi was sentenced to 42 years in prison but died in prison on July 14, 2021, two years after he was found guilty of 28 acts of abuse committed between 2005 and 2016, more than 11 years of sexual assault and torture.

Gómez was sentenced to only 18 years after prosecutors and judges took into account his diagnosis as hearing impaired and his illiteracy, concluding that this would have made him easily influenced. However, psychological and psychiatric expert examinations were requested to determine whether he was capable of understanding the criminality of the events.

The fourth defendant in that case was altar boy Jorge Bordón, who agreed to a plea bargain after he acknowledged his complicity and involvement in 11 incidents. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison after an agreement was reached between defence lawyers and prosecutors.

 

– TIMES/PERFIL

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