Oct 15, 2020 @ 11:37

Priest goes on trial in Vatican accused of abuse as teen

by Ella IDE

An Italian priest accused of sexually abusing an underage boy as a teenager went on trial in the Vatican Wednesday, along with a fellow priest who allegedly shielded him from justice.

The defendant and victim were aged 14 and 13 when the alleged abuse began. It would reportedly go on for five years.

Gabriele Martinelli, now 28, is accused of carrying out repeated sexual assaults between 2007 and 2012 at the St Pius X pre-seminary, an institution located on Vatican grounds that hosts boys interested in the priesthood.

The court in the tiny city state heard that Martelli, who would go on to become a priest in 2017, allegedly molested a fellow pupil in the house, which is very close to Pope Francis’s residence.

Martinelli was barely in his teens when he began to abuse a first year pupil known by the initials L. G., according to the charges read out against him in court Wednesday at the first hearing.

He stands accused of “using violence and threats… to force L.G. to endure carnal relations” as well as “acts of sodomy, self-masturbation and masturbation of the boy, in various times and places within Vatican City”.

The abuse ended when Martinelli was 19 and L.G. 18, according to prosecutors.

– ‘Obstructing case’ –
Martinelli is being tried alongside Enrico Radice, 71, rector of the residence at the time of the alleged events.

Radice is accused of having “in various times and place, in Italy and abroad, helped Martinelli to evade investigation,” according to the charges.

Both defendants were in court for the lightning hearing that lasted eight minutes, before the case was postponed to October 27, when both men are expected to be heard.

The boarders at St Pius X are mainly children and adolescents who live there while they attend a private school in Rome, and participate as altar boys in the masses celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica.

An investigation was launched into the allegations following the 2017 publication of a book called “Original Sin” by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, which detailed the alleged abuse.

In it, Polish seminarian Kamil Tadeusz Jarzembowksi said he had witnessed repeated sexual assaults on his roommate, the alleged victim in the current case identified as L. G.

The Pole, who lived at St Pius X between the ages of 13 and 18, denounced Martinelli to superiors and also in a letter written to cardinals along with two other seminarians.

Radice is accused by the prosecution of “obstructing the investigation” into Martinelli by “insisting he knew nothing at all about homosexual acts or lust in the pre-seminary”.

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© Agence France-Presse

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