September 4, 2010 in News
Six Convicted of Sexual Crimes at Portuguese Children’s Home (New York Times):
Six people were convicted of child sexual abuse in a Lisbon court on Friday, in a trial that lasted nearly six years and shocked people in Portugal and beyond.
A three-judge panel found the defendants guilty of raping and sexually abusing minors at a state-run institution for needy children, and of running a ring for pedophiles. A seventh defendant, charged with allowing her home to be used for sexual abuse, was acquitted.
The charges involved the rape and sexual abuse of 32 children who were residents of the home in Lisbon, part of a network of institutions for children called Casa Pia. The crimes took place in the 1990s, but they first came to light in 2002, when a former resident accused Carlos Silvino, a former driver and gardener at the home, of raping him.
The accusation prompted others to come forward to say that they, too, had been raped and sexually abused. The allegations included accounts of sex parties attended by prominent personalities. The defendants included Carlos Cruz, a former star television anchor, who was sentenced to seven years in prison, and Jorge Ritto, a retired ambassador, who received a sentence of six years and eight months.
Mr. Silvino was the only defendant to have confessed, admitting to more than 600 crimes, including child sexual abuse, aggravated rape and procuring minors for others in return for payment. Mr. Silvino received the heaviest sentence, 18 years in prison. Mr. Cruz and most of the other defendants said they would appeal their convictions. Mr. Cruz contended that the case against him had been built on “lies and manipulation.”
Other scandals involving child sexual abuse have emerged across Europe, many involving accusations of abuses by Roman Catholic priests. In May, for example, a German special investigator released a report saying that 205 former students said they had been abused in the country’s Jesuit schools, including the prestigious Canisius College in Berlin.
Pen portraits: Portuguese child abuse defendants (BBC)
Carlos Cruz jailed for seven years for paedophile offences (guardian.co.uk):
Members of Portugal’s media, civil service and professional elite were alleged to be regular abusers of the boys, some younger than 14. Even well-known politicians were involved, it was initially rumoured. A flood of accusations from boys who had passed through the Casa Pia system followed. Some 32 boys alleged at least 800 crimes.
The case pitted the orphanage boys against a group of well-educated, influential people – including a former ambassador to Unesco, a lawyer, a doctor and Cruz. Yesterday, eight years after they dared to speak out, the boys finally won their case.
The four men and two former orphanage employees received sentences of between just under six years and 18 years. Carlos Silvino, a 53-year-old Casa Pia worker who confessed to 600 crimes and gave evidence against other defendants was sentenced to 18 years.
“The court recognised that we were telling the truth,” said Bernardo Teixeira, one of the victims. “It’s a happy ending for us. The paedophiles are going to jail.”
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