Minutes after approval the initiative that promotes the creation of an investigation commission on sexual abuse in the Church, the socialist deputy Juan Cuatrecasas did not hide his happiness. He and his wife, Ana Cristina Cuevas, have been fighting for more than a decade for the administration to focus on these cases. His son suffered sexual abuse by a teacher when he was in the first cycle of secondary school in Gazteluetaan Opus Dei school in Bizkaia.
The father of the Gaztelueta victim: "There are bishops who dedicate themselves to publicly humiliating victims of sexual abuse"
The Justice considered these facts accredited, although the teacher's sentence went from eleven to two years when appealed in the supreme court. At that time Cuatrecasas and Cuevas promoted the Stolen Childhood association. In 2019 he made the leap to politics and ran for election on a PSOE list. This Thursday the two were euphoric, after Congress began the process to investigate for the first time in our country the cases of pederasty in Catholic institutions.
He entered politics in 2019, after the media coverage of his son's case. What does the initiative that has been approved today mean to you?
The start of something big. NLP is not an end in itself, but rather an instrument to reach an objective: the full recognition of all victims of abuse in the ecclesiastical sphere, in order to achieve truth, justice, reparation and accompaniment. . We must thank all the victims who have always been a figurehead in the fight. And from now on we must demand unity of criteria from the victims themselves so that we can all work to achieve that goal. If we look back, we came from practically nothing.
What do the victims and their environment require of the administrations?
The first thing that the victims ask for is the express and public acknowledgment that there have been crimes that have caused irreparable damage and consequences in most cases. In their evolution, victims are subject to peaks in work, student, personal and emotional performance.
Public administrations, and the Church for those who are Catholic, have to provide therapies and free legal assistance. Why? Because there are many victims who do not have sufficient economic capacity to face them. Therefore, it is essential that these people be publicly recognized as victims. It amazes me that there are religious institutions that do not take the step of carrying out this recognition, even when there is a final judgment.
Is it necessary for the commission of inquiry to have a temporary commitment?
In principle, there has been an unwritten commitment that it be a term that coincides with the remainder of the legislature.
This initiative has caused a conflict with United We Can, what do you think of the proposal presented by the confederal group?
As a deputy, as the father of a victim and as a member of the Stolen Childhood association, we have issued a statement of thanks to all the groups that had initiatives. Subsequently, I have seen a series of changes in criteria over time. We have even been told that a parliamentary commission demanded the appearance of whoever was called. That is true, but being true, we have the experience of other investigative commissions: one thing is that they demand you go and another thing is that they demand you tell the truth.
I am grateful for the initiatives that have been proposed to reach a common goal, but it does not seem fair to me that they try to impose things without submitting them to a consensus. In a negotiation, both parties have to give in. The PSOE and PNV have yielded and have enriched their initiative. I have seen that other groups have clung to a proposal and have yielded rather little. It is not a criticism. At this point, and leaving quarrels behind, it is time for all of us to adopt a firm commitment to swim forward together because this investigation is going to require the unity of all agents.
United We Can announced this Thursday that they had reached an agreement with the PSOE to guarantee their support for the NLP that has been approved in Congress. Do you know the points on which they have reached a consensus?
I haven't had time to read the entire agreement. I know that there have been negotiations and dialogue. And that there has always been an attempt to reach an agreement, which has finally been achieved, even with the favorable vote of the Popular Party. This makes the model bigger. I believe that the Ombudsman is going to have an arduous task, but I have great confidence in the person of Ángel Gabilondo. During all this time, Gabilondo has received totally unjustified and malicious criticism.
What do you think that the representatives of the Church are forced to attend the commissions?
It does not work. Although the investigation commissions are usually behind closed doors, there is a previous corridor. We have seen it in the Congress of Deputies. This model does not certify the intimacy of the victims. Moreover, I will say that it contradicts what I have been saying for years. In a Provincial Court I have had to put up with a prosecutor saying that the victims are not credible because they add to their story over time. It is a capital nonsense and there are still judges and prosecutors who maintain it, even in gender violence. The victims do not count when a judge wants or when they want, they count when they can count, when they have the necessary capacity to tell and face the story. Trying to expose the victims to a media circus is a mistake that re-victimizes them.
Are you going to have a role in the commission of inquiry?
I can't get ahead of it.
Beyond the Ombudsman, what experts is expected to have the commission?
The model of the Ombudsman should include the victims because until now, although it sounds almost like something extraordinary, they were not included in action protocols or in investigation commissions of the Church. The victims did not exist, they only went to those institutions to report something. There must also be facultative; psychiatrists and psychologists; academics; people who have already made reports, which for me are of unquestionable value; and of course, there has to be some legal office. It is a cross-cutting issue that affects public health and therefore health. It is a matter of education, legal, social rights. All these aspects have to come together for the solution to be as effective as possible.
What role do you think the Church will have in this commission?
That is the question. I have always maintained that the Church does matter to me because in this she has an undeniable role. The Church has to appear because she has to provide information and data. She has to make herself fully available to the office of the Ombudsman and, of course, to the Congress of Deputies. It is not a requirement, it is an obligation. A Church that preaches values cannot stay away from her victims, because they are her victims, and of course, her pederasts. There are victims with damages caused by people of the Church.
We have been demanding that the Church recognize my son's good name, something that it has not done, even after a final ruling by the Supreme Court. Today the Church is saying that the good name of a pederast sentenced to two years for continued abuse of a minor must be restored. Is hard to understand.
A Church that preaches values cannot stay away from its victims, because they are its victims, and of course, its pederasts.
What do you expect from this commission?
I hope that responsibilities are cleared up and that it serves as an important precedent to establish jurisprudence, which allows the Prosecutor's Office to take action on the matter. And that it be an incentive to repair the victims, to recognize them publicly and to prevent these events from happening again – not only in the Church, in all areas of society – because we are talking about boys, girls and young people in the process of formation of their personalities and many are subject to symptoms of guilt. I think this can help them as therapy, as collective therapy. After many years of deliberate ignorance and collective amnesia, let society also be aware that this is not a joke, that it can happen to anyone.
How should victims be compensated when judicially it is not possible?
The system should recognize the victims even if there is no conviction, at least when there is an express recognition of the offender, and thus they can have access to that condition of victims. I think it's fair. As for the offender, the perpetrator, we know that there is a registry of pedophiles in the Ministry of the Interior when there is a final conviction. The same constitutionally is more complicated, but the form should be studied, always with a legal channel without fringes, so that they are part of a registry and cannot be in contact with minors. I am not telling a fiction, there are examples. It has happened in the Salesians of Bilbao and in countless cases where the victims have come to report years later, when they have realized that their pedophile is still in contact with members of her family who are minors.
You have to fit that point of truth and justice. Something must be done, despite the difficulty it may have at the constitutional and legal level, especially so that those victims whose cases have prescribed have their rights as victims intact. It is fundamental and it is another form of recognition.
The audit that the Church has commissioned has no credibility. They could have chosen another more independent format
What is your opinion about the Episcopal Conference's initiative to commission an "external audit" to investigate cases of abuse?
We don't give it credibility. I am not saying this as a deputy, but as a member of Infancia Robada and as the father of a victim. I think they could have chosen another more independent format, made up of academics, lawyers, psychologists, but not as an office, but as individual members. The commitment, for example, of the Repara plan of the Archbishopric of Madrid of Monsignor [Carlos] Osoro has a much more independent character. I think he is giving more or less results. It could be a similar model.