Clergy abuse victims call on Pope Francis to open files on Argentina’s pedophile priests
By Associated Press, Tuesday, March 19, 2013
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Activists against abuse by Roman Catholic clergy urged Pope Francis on Tuesday to apologize for what they called the Argentine church’s protection of two priests who were eventually convicted of sexually assaulting children.
The U.S.-based Bishop Accountability group cited the case of Father Julio Cesar Grassi, who ran the “Happy Children” foundation and was convicted of pedophilia in 2008, and Father Napoleon Sasso, convicted in 2007 of abusing girls at a soup kitchen in suburban Buenos Aires.
The Buenos Aires archbishop’s office didn’t immediately respond Tuesday.
The pope’s authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin, told The Associated Press before Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope last week that he had drawn an increasingly tough line on clergy abuse. Bergoglio insisted that accused priests face trial, and imposed a thorough screening process in an attempt to weed out future problems, Rubin said…..
Grassi was well known in Buenos Aires for persuading celebrities to donate to his “Happy Children” foundation, which ran orphanages and social outreach programs. Before he was convicted, Grassi praised Bergoglio for “never abandoning him.” Now he’s free on appeal, thanks in part to a church filing on his behalf.
Sasso, meanwhile, enjoys prison furloughs after serving half of a 17-year sentence for abusing five girls.
Sasso was assigned to the soup kitchen, at a chapel where his bedroom shared the only bathroom, after living in a home for wayward priests where he had been sent after accusations of pedophilia were raised against him in remote San Juan province.
“The bathroom had two doors. The girls would come in through the outside door, and the priest would bring them into his bedroom through the other, sexually abusing the girls,” Moreau said. “These were really poor people, who were there for free meals while their parents worked. They found an enormous amount of child pornography in his computer, semen, condoms.” It was a medical priest and a nun who discovered that Sasso abused 25 girls aged 3 to 16, but when they informed church officials, they were told to “remain patient,” and nothing was done, Moreau said.
Eventually, they sought higher authorities and the case was taken up by the criminal courts, but the mid-level officials who covered it up still have their positions, while the priest and nun were forced to work elsewhere, the lawyer said….
Indian legislators pass strict anti-rape law
By Rama Lakshmi Tuesday, March 19, 2013
NEW DELHI — The Indian Parliament’s lower house passed a landmark law Tuesday that sets tougher penalties for rapists and for police officers who refuse to file a woman’s complaint of rape, as well as criminalizing offenses such as stalking, voyeurism and acid attacks.
The amendments to existing law incorporate some of the sweeping changes that were demanded after the fatal gang rape of a young paramedical student in New Delhi in December, an incident that sparked a nationwide outcry against the lack of safety for women.
Despite the unprecedented protests that galvanized tens of thousands of Indians, the number of incidents of sexual assault has not diminished.
As lawmakers discussed the new law in Parliament on Tuesday, a British tourist fractured her leg when she jumped from the balcony of her hotel room in Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal, to escape being molested by the hotel owner, police said….
A provision requiring government approval for the trial of police officers, officials, politicians and judges on rape charges also has been lifted.
For the first time, the law criminalizes stalking and voyeurism, acts of sexual harassment that have long been grouped under the benign euphemism “love-teasing.” Hereafter, rapes that occur during religious and caste riots also will be treated as cases of aggravated sexual assault.
The law does not, however, address contentious issues such as marital rape or the legal impunity afforded to Indian military officers. Nor does it include a provision to prohibit politicians charged with rape from running for office….
Some activists working to end the trafficking of minors said the law is a watered-down version of what was initially proposed.
“Under the new law, trafficking of a minor is a crime only if rape or sexual exploitation occurs,” said Bhuwan Ribhu, a children’s rights activist….