A Roman Catholic priest who won fame running an Argentine foundation for poor youths was convicted Wednesday of sexually molesting a boy who participated in the program. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
A three-judge panel found Father Julio Grassi guilty of one count of sexual abuse and one count of corrupting a minor. He was acquitted of 15 other charges alleging abuse of two other boys at his “Happy the Children” Foundation. All the alleged crimes occurred in 1996.
Grassi, 52, continued to proclaim his innocence, saying he was “the victim of an injustice.”
“I feel ashamed for justice, not for me,” he said after the verdict.
Outside the court, protesters demanding Grassi’s imprisonment scuffled with the priest’s supporters. Two people were detained by police.
Grassi became widely known in Argentina after starting the “Happy the Children” Foundation in 1993, opening several homes for poor children and doing other charitable work.
Through television appearances and other appeals, the priest raised millions of dollars (euros), many of the donations coming from important public figures who distanced themselves from the priest after the allegations.
A lawyer for one of the alleged victims said it was good that Grassi was sentenced, but he criticized the priest’s acquittal on most of the charges.
“We are going to appeal the verdict because there are facts that have not been considered,” attorney Juan Pablo Gallego said.
The court withheld the identities of the three alleged victims.
Grassi was the third member of the Argentine church to be convicted of sexually abusing minors.
MONTREAL – A self-described pastor who hoped his “marriage” to a 10-year-old girl he took to bed would convince a judge to acquit him on a sexual assault charge was sentenced to five years in prison on Monday.
Daniel Cormier, who was convicted last October following a lengthy trial, has a maximum of 49 months left behind bars because of time already served.
“I would say that there’s no remorse,” Crown prosecutor Anne-Andree Charette said outside the courtroom. “He just tried to find justifications.”
The Crown wanted the maximum prison term of 10 years, while a lawyer Cormier hired for sentencing arguments recommended between 30 months and four years behind bars, given Canadian jurisprudence..
The 57-year-old head of the now defunct Church of Downtown Montreal, who also once ran for mayor, has maintained he is not a pedophile and that he did nothing wrong as the pair were married during a ceremony at his obscure evangelical church in 1999.
Court heard he was lovestruck for the youngster.
During the trial, Quebec court Judge Sylvie Durand announced she would not hear testimony supporting his marriage defence.
The victim, who is now 19, testified she was too young to grasp the idea of marriage. She denied ever entering a union with him, but said she remembered the sexual abuse in vivid detail.
During the proceedings, court heard that Cormier’s church catered to the marginalized. Starting in 1993, he took the girl’s mother, a recovering junkie and prostitute, and her two daughters under his wing.
Relatives described Cormier as a father figure to the girls who were often invited to stay with him or go on vacation with him and other church members.
It was during such holidays that fellow parishioners became suspicious of Cormier’s relationship with the victim.
He was arrested in 2003 after a social worker notified police but the case progressed slowly through the courts as numerous motions were filed by both the Crown and Cormier, who represented himself at the trial.
When it came time for the victim to testify, she agreed to do so only via video link from an adjacent room and Cormier was barred from cross-examining her or her mother.
He declined to submit to the court an approved list of questions and rested his case without calling further witnesses or taking the stand himself.
At the time of his conviction, two additional charges of sexual touching and invitation to touching were dropped.
Cormier is currently on trial in another case involving a 16-year-old girl and could face additional jail time if convicted.
The alleged crimes, which Cormier denies committing, also date back to his time as a pastor.
TAOS, N. M. (KRQE) – Cult leader Wayne Bent testified Thursday he could not go against God even though he knew spiritual touching of two young, naked followers would get him in trouble.
Neither could two of his young followers go against their beliefs testifying earlier the contact was purely religious, not sexual. The two girls in the case were 14 and 16 at the time two years ago.
They say they had lain naked with Bent so they could be closer to God.
Two men who are members of the cult testified on Thursday that they had physical relationships with Bent that included kissing and embracing on multiple occasions.
On Wednesday a prosecution psychologist compared Bent to a sexual predator who grooms his victims.
Today Bent, 67, explained how he held the girls in his bed.
Wayne bent/cult leader
“She was on the left side because she got in the bed last,” Bent said. “I turned on my side, and I put my hand on her sternum.
“We visited that way, and that was pretty much common for me to do.”
Bent said he could not deny the girls’ wishes because God told them to do it.
The younger of the two sisters said she loves Bent and felt nothing improper happen. The other girl and her mother have both testified against Bent.
The defense rested its case, and closing arguments are set for Friday morning.
Clearly, this is gods will. He wants his emissaries to sexually abuse children.
A priest who sexually abused boys at a Catholic school over a 20 year period has been jailed for six years.
William Green, 67, of Cale Lane, Aspull, Wigan, admitted 27 counts of sexual abuse on children in August.
He abused pupils aged 11 to 15 at St Bede’s Boys’ School in Manchester between 1975 and 1987 where he worked as a religious education teacher.
He also assaulted an eight-year-old boy at St Margaret Mary’s Junior School, Moston, where he also worked, in 1968.
He was jailed at Manchester Crown Court on Wednesday.
Police were first contacted in late 2007 by a victim who had been abused by Green during the 1970s.
Further inquiries revealed other victims and Green was charged in April 2007.
The court was told how Green abused “lonely” and vulnerable boys hundreds of times.
Alaric Bassano, prosecuting, said Green presented himself as a friendly father figure who won his victims’ trust by offering them privileges and treats of tea, sweets, cigarettes and television in his room.
Passing sentence, Judge Goldstone QC said Green had systematically sexually abused the boys as both a priest and teacher.
He said: “These boys were vulnerable and they were groomed by you for the purposes of your own sexual gratification.
“You abused them in the school and on church-related activities.
“As far as the lives of these boys, and later men, were concerned the effects of your abuse on their lives was to last for many years and in some cases it remains.”
The police investigation was carried out with the support and co-operation of the Salford Diocese Child Protection Commission, St Bedes College and Manchester City Council.