Justice releases a priest denounced for sexual assault who broke a restraining order

Justice has sentenced a priest of the Bishopric of Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) for a continued crime of breach of a precautionary measure. The magistrate of the criminal court number 1 of Burgos considers it proven that for nine months, and despite the fact that an investigating court had prohibited him from approaching or communicating with the complainant, the convicted man called this woman "on numerous occasions" "on her private telephone number and to his place of work from a hidden phone number”.

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For these facts, the judge imposed a fine of 3,600 euros on the priest, despite the fact that the Prosecutor's Office even asked for three years in prison. The priest, who was in provisional prison for this cause, has been released because the sentence has not carried a prison sentence, judicial sources point out.

Parallel to this precautionary order, this woman has also denounced him for crimes of coercion, threats and against sexual freedom, according to the sentence, advanced by the Diario de Burgos. This medium assures that the priest is accused of three crimes of sexual assault and one of harassment. Official sources from the Superior Court of Castilla y León detail that the case has been instructed and is currently awaiting a trial date.

Judgment appealed

Despite the restraining order imposed by the investigating court, the priest not only called the plaintiff. In these communications, the priest came to ask this woman "to retract the complaint that she had filed against him," according to the proven facts of the sentence issued in April by the Criminal Court number 1 of Burgos. For now, the ruling is not final, since it has been appealed, as confirmed by the lawyers of both parties.

The magistrate rules out that these facts constitute a crime of harassment and obstruction of justice, as claimed by the Prosecutor's Office and the prosecution. Before the first request, the sentence states that "there has been no evidence" of a "continuity or intensity" necessary "to configure the criminal type of harassment."

In that argument, the judge assures that the priest's actions "may be an annoying, uncomfortable attitude that negatively affected the complainant", especially if one takes into account "that there is a pending legal proceeding".

secluded in a monastery

Even so, the magistrate points out that it has not been proven that "the defendant's behavior seriously altered the normal development of the complainant's daily life." Therefore, she concludes that it has not been shown that the "diagnosis compatible with symptoms of anxiety and significant stress" presented by the plaintiff "derives from the facts" exposed in the proven facts of the judgment.

The Bishopric of Alcalá de Henares acted as soon as the complaint was filed in this institution, indicate ecclesiastical sources and confirm to elDiario.es the complainant's lawyer. "The priest has been suspended from the exercise of the priestly ministry since that day," they point out from the Diocese of Juan Antonio Reig Pla. And they add: “Following the planned protocol, the preliminary investigation was carried out and the result was sent to the Holy See. He is confined in a monastery awaiting the canonical and civil sentence”.

The facts judged began on September 11, 2019, the date on which the priest had "perfect knowledge" of the "prohibitions imposed". From that moment and until July 2020, he broke the restraining order. According to the complainant, in that period the order agreed by the court was violated "repeatedly", since the accused "has insistently called her from a private number to her home phone and to work". In the communications that he attended, "he recognized the voice of the accused", and in some cases he also "heard him panting", this woman pointed out in her statement.

In that account, this woman also indicated that “her co-worker told her that someone was constantly calling asking for her and that, on one occasion, she had seen him near the clinic” where she was an employee. In the trial, this witness confirmed that she saw him "on one occasion", although she could not frame these events in "the period of validity of the restraining order".

You have to withdraw the complaint you filed against me because it is the best for you [...] I just wanted to be with you well and you have complicated everything with your stubbornness making you narrow, "says a letter sent to the complainant

The magistrate maintains that "it has not been proven" either that the priest wrote and sent two anonymous letters to the complainant in November 2019 and in January 2020. In one of them the content was as follows: "You have to withdraw the complaint that you put because it is the best for you. If you don't do it like that I will never leave you alone, you always ask me to leave you alone, this is the way to leave you alone”. And she continues: “Write to the Bishop of Alcalá and tell him that everything is a lie and to Rome too and deny everything and say that I am a good priest and that they get me out of here as soon as possible”. “I just wanted to be with you well and you have complicated everything with your stubbornness making you narrow”, she ends the first letter.

“The letters are anonymous, they have no sender and they are not handwritten,” indicates the magistrate, who also points out that “no objective evidence has been carried out to be able to affirm, without any doubt, the authorship of the accused.” To determine the origin of these letters, "no investigative diligence has been carried out to prove that it was sent by the accused" nor has it been specified whether "they were written from an existing computer in the places where the accused was in those dates”.

Along the same lines, the judge points out that "it has not been proven" that the priest "in the month of January 2020" sent the complainant "two voice audios in which he was heard gasping."

For his part, the accused denied the facts attributed to him by the Prosecutor's Office and the accusation and assured that after the restraining order "he has not made calls from a hidden number" to the victim and neither did he send "letters or audios."

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