April 21, 2021

Trial of a friar on the Camino de Santiago for abuse of a minor and her disabled cousin | Society

Trial of a friar on the Camino de Santiago for abuse of a minor and her disabled cousin | Society

The recurring dream of Laura and her brother Luis (fictitious names) was that a white limousine came to pick them up at the door of their house, in the poor, tiny and secluded town of Pedrafita do Cebreiro (Lugo) Town Hall that inhabits their family. The long vehicle would appear on a good spring day when the snow had melted, would maneuver with difficulty on the narrow road and take them away "forever". "Not to return," confessed his wishes the eldest of the two brothers to this newspaper in 2015. Not a month ago that the entire municipality had been frozen with a story that affected Laura, a cousin of this and the most famous of the Franciscan friars from the French Way to Santiago. The Civil Guard had been arrested José Q.A. of the sanctuary of O Cebreiro accused of repeatedly abusing the girl, then 16 years old, and her relative, 20 and with a mental disability, supposedly in exchange for successive deliveries of money that the agents believed came from the brush of this mythical temple on the Jacobean route.

The investigators pointed at that time to an alleged crime of misappropriation of money from the church and to another possible prostitution of a minor, raised in a family without resources that, according to the mayor, José Luis Raposo (PSOE), required the constant help of the consistory to get ahead. The contacts of the accused were also traced, with the suspicion that the friar would have shared with third parties some of the 250 photos of sexual content recovered from the "sent" folder of your mobile. After abandoning some of these initial investigations, the trial begins today at the Audiencia of Lugo and the prosecution finally demands for the religious 17 years in prison for the sexual abuse of the girl and her cousin, and for using the girl for the elaboration of pornographic material.

In his account of the facts, the prosecutor describes how the approach of José Q., who was then 56 years old, came to the minor, and he cites various sexual encounters in a house of the religious in Ourense and in the sacristy of the pre-Romanesque temple of O Cebreiro, founded in the year 872, where one of the presumed holy grails of Catholicism is kept. She insisted in court that the relations had been "spoiled", assured that the friar gave him "grief" and that the penetrations "they were always with a condom"The religious was unable to deny that those meetings had occurred because the photos of his phone, with the girl naked in the temple or with the penis wrapped in bills, betrayed him.

The cousin, on the other hand, had accompanied both of them once to the house in Ourense. He said that the friar had asked him to lie down naked with the girl to portray it, and that he had tried to penetrate anally but in the end he had given up. The public prosecutor remembers that the young person is disabled and that his cousin has an "IQ very close to the limit capacity".

José Q., always dressed in the Franciscan habit, became possibly the five year old who came to exercise his pastoral work in O Cebreiro in the most photographed friar of the Camino. He received the pilgrims at the entrance of the temple, where it was not unusual to see him work, cleaning the snow court with a shovel, or finishing off at the table where souvenirs are sent and Jacobean credentials are sealed with some of the tapestries he embroidered. The neighbors appreciated it, they recognized that it helped with money to the walkers that it saw needed. Some returned later grateful, with some gift under his arm from anywhere in the world. That's why his arrest hurt deeply.

When he gave a statement, the friar admitted the facts, but accused the girl of pushing him to temptation: "He messed me up in a bad way". Already in prison, his lawyer, who immediately asked to change the prison cell of Bonxe for that of a convent, declared that the Franciscan was "very sorry" and that I had "lost my mind". The arrest took place in February 2015 and in April the prisoner, who maintained a voluntary fast for several days, was placed on probation by the court of Becerreá (Lugo).

In addition to a sentence of 17 years, the prosecutor of Lugo asks for José Q. the prohibition of approaching less than 500 meters of the young woman and to communicate with her during 12 years, and a compensation of 9,000 euros. In relation to the other alleged victim, the girl's cousin claims three years of estrangement and 2,000 euros for moral damages.

The accusation relates that before the summer of 2014 the Franciscan made contact with the minor through Facebook (the friar's account ceased to be active in January 2015, when he was already investigated) and "little by little" gained his trust and confidence. his "compassion." He told him that "his parents had died and he was very lonely, without friends", and in September he proposed that he accompany him to the house in a lonely village in the province of Ourense, owned by his family, to "help him clean "in exchange for money.

The minor asked permission from her parents and accompanied him. During the night, according to the indictment, the man entered the teenager's room and "began to kiss her and perform touching." Although he stopped when she asked him, he stayed "to sleep at his side" and the next day "gave him about 100 euros". After this episode, the child stopped responding to him through the social network and avoided his contact for a while, but he insisted and finally, according to the prosecutor, "forgave him" and "asked him not to happen again." However, in November 2014, after the defendant told him "successive times he felt very lonely in life", Laura accompanied him back to Ourense and "they had sex for the first time". "The next day", the defendant gave him money.

From that moment until February 2015, they maintained "several sexual encounters in the sacristy" of the sanctuary. The priest made "several photos of sexual content with his phone camera" and asked the child to "in turn take pictures of him". During that time the Lugo public prosecutor estimates that he gave the young woman between 800 and 900 euros, but in the indictment there is no indication of where the money came from.

Psychological disability of 40%

In addition, the friar asked the girl several times to look for third parties. Once the minor convinced her cousin, with a "psychic disability of 40% and mild intellectual disability that prevents him from possessing sufficient critical judgment". The young man marched with the promise that "they were going to party" and that the religious "would give him money". When they arrived in the Ourense village, they dined, drank "two bottles of rum" and the friar had sexual relations with the minor and made "no penetration" touching the cousin. The next morning, the defendant got up and approached the young man, who had fallen asleep after drinking alcohol. The prosecutor explains that he "touched him" and tried to "penetrate him anally", but gave up when he asked him to stop. Then he gave the boy 150 euros.

The prosecution's brief contends that the facts constitute a continuing crime of "sexual abuse with preventative and carnal access," which calls for 10 years in prison, and a continuing offense of "use of a minor for the production of pornographic material ", for which he requests another five. This adds two years for another "crime of sexual abuse" allegedly perpetrated on the girl's relative.


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