The religious order of the Salesian Brothers of Spain has asked forgiveness this Saturday for the alleged cases of pedophilia in the Deusto school (Bilbao) during the eighties and that THE COUNTRY has recently uncovered. The statement makes reference to the reports and denunciations of eight victims against the ex-José Miguel San Martín, known as Don Chemi, for touching, kissing, rape and physical abuse. The alumni were encouraged to denounce this week in the Ertzaintza after they read in this newspaper at the beginning of the year the testimony of another alleged victim of San Martin, José Antonio Pérez, where he narrated how Don Chemi sexually assaulted him in the center facilities between 1978 and 1980. The former teacher, who was religious in the order between 1975 and 1990, denied the facts to EL PAÍS, although he added that in the past "he could do things that can be misinterpreted".
"We would like to apologize because such reprehensible acts could have happened between us and not detected them," the statement said. The order has ensured that, after hearing the news, "started an internal investigation, talking with the directors who still good and other Salesians who worked at the school in those years." For the moment, he asserts that he has no record that during those years there were denunciations against San Martín. However, two of the nine alumni who contacted EL PAÍS to report the abuses reaffirm that they told what happened to their families and the AMPA went to talk with the director at the time. "Nothing happened, Don Chemi apologized and justified himself by saying that he was very affected by the death of his mother," recalls Gonzalo Elorza, one of the alleged victims.
The alleged crimes of San Martin took place throughout the eighties, both in the premises of the Salesian College in Deusto and in camps organized by the order. Although all have prescribed, the objective of the complainants is that "more victims report the cases to the courts" and make it appear "that they are not isolated cases". The alumni also want to denounce "the concealment of the Church in cases of pedophilia".
The Salesians have also reported that in case justice asks them, they will give them "all the information, data or documents that are appropriate". They also stressed that they contacted the defendant on January 25 to inform him that they had initiated an investigation and that they had made themselves "available to the victims." On the other hand, the people affected have commented to this newspaper that nobody from the order has called them, so it may be others affected by abuse. After leaving the order, San Martín continued working in summer camps and doing activities with minors.
The congregation wanted to show its support to the complainants and their disposition "in everything that could be useful". "Despite the time that has elapsed, it deeply affects us, and we imagine the suffering they have suffered for acts that are contrary to the values we defend," they add in the press release, in which they announced the creation of an email so that more possible victims of abuses of that school get in touch with them.