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Another deceased Jesuit priest charged with sex abuse in Bolivia as pedophilia scandal grows

LA PAZ, Bolivia — A Spanish Jesuit priest who died in 2012 has been accused of sexually abusing a minor in Bolivia three decades ago, the latest in a string of pedophilia cases that have rocked the Catholic Church in the Andean country.

Jorge Vila Despujol, who died in Barcelona in 2012, was formally charged in front of prosecutors on Thursday by a person who claims he was molested when she was just 13, the Jesuit Society of Bolivia said in a statement. . The name of the alleged victim is being kept confidential.

The abuse allegedly took place when the victim was at an educational institution in the central region of Cochabamba, although no further details were given.

Vila Despujol founded the organization Defense of Children International in Bolivia, which promotes the rights of minors. The organization is still active and condemned all forms of abuse in a statement in which it also urged other victims to file complaints with the public prosecutor.

Jesuits in Bolivia have been in the spotlight since Spanish newspaper El País published excerpts from the diary of the late priest Alfonso Pedrajas a few weeks ago, in which he confessed to having sexually abused dozens of minors in Catholic boarding schools. in the 1970s and 1980s.

An alleged victim of Pedrajas has officially filed a complaint against the priest who died on May 19, the Jesuit order said.

Revelations about Pedrajas, a Spanish Jesuit who died in 2009, have uncovered other cases of abuse by Church authorities, including other orders, amid an extensive investigation by prosecutors.

A Carmelite priest, Milton Murillo, was remanded in custody for three months earlier this month. The prosecution said this week that it had formally charged another priest, Garvin Grech, with covering up Murillo’s alleged crimes. Grech fled to neighboring Argentina, according to police.

Attorney General Wilfredo Chávez said earlier this week that about 23 priests have been implicated in alleged cases of pedophilia.

The Jesuit Society of Bolivia previously apologized to the victims and pledged to support the investigation while denouncing Pedrajas’ superiors for an alleged cover-up. Many of the people targeted are no longer in office or have died.

Earlier this week, Jordi Bertemeu, one of the Vatican’s top sex crimes investigators, arrived in Bolivia amid the growing scandal.

The Bolivian Catholic Church admitted on Wednesday that it had been “deaf to the suffering” of victims of sexual abuse committed by priests and pledged to “seek reparation for the victims”.

ABC News

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