Irish priest guilty of Chile abuse

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Published: Wednesday 15th October 2014 by The News Editor

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An Irish-born priest has been found guilty of sexually abusing a child while he was chaplain at a school in Chile’s capital.

A court in Santiago said that the Rev. John O’Reilly committed the abuse while he was the spiritual guide at the Cumbres school, in the affluent neighbourhood of Las Condes.

The families of two sisters accused the priest of molesting two pre-teen girls between 2007 and 2011. The court absolved him in one of the cases.

His sentence will be announced on November 11.

“The court has established … beyond all reasonable doubt the following facts: that O’Reilly decided to carry out actions of a sexual nature through body contact with a school student,” said Judge Maria Teresa Barrientos.

O’Reilly, who arrived in Chile in the mid-1980s and was granted citizenship in 2008, is a member of the Legion of Christ.

The once-respected conservative order fell into scandal after it revealed that its founder had fathered a child and had sexually abused seminarians.

Prosecutors are asking for O’Reilly, who has denied any wrongdoing, to serve 10 years in prison and be banned from any job near children.

The Roman Catholic Church retains a strong influence over society in Chile, although it has lost credibility since 2010, when four men alleged that they were abused by one of the country’s most revered priests when they were between 14 and 17 years old.

The Vatican sanctioned Rev. Fernando Karadima by ordering him to a life of “penitence and prayer”. A Chilean judge later dismissed a criminal case because the statute of limitations had expired, but she concluded that the abuse allegations were truthful.

Published: Wednesday 15th October 2014 by The News Editor

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