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Former Spanish priest sentenced to 30 years in prison for abusing minors

MADRID– Spain’s Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a 30-year prison sentence that a lower court imposed on a former priest for sexually abusing seven boys he taught at a seminary boarding school.

The court found that the abuse took place between 2013 and 2016 at the school in the city of Ciudad Real, in the center-south. The victims were about 13 years old at the time.

During swimming lessons, the defendant played games with some of the boys, dragging them through the water by grabbing their genitals, the court heard, and forced some of his victims to stand naked in front of him by as a “trust test”.

In 2016, a church court defrocked the priest after receiving complaints about his behavior and sent him to civil court. In 2020, he was found guilty of sexual abuse and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The former priest appealed to the Supreme Court, which on Tuesday upheld the earlier decision, fined him 52,920 euros ($53,000) and ordered him to pay 2,000 euros in compensation to each victim .

An association representing victims of abuse by priests when they were minors, ANIR, welcomed the decision.

“We don’t often see these long sentences. Previously, the Supreme Court had even reduced certain sentences. Priests rarely go to jail in Spain. I hope (the ruling) paves the way for this to become normal,” ANIR founder Ana Cuevas told The Associated Press.

The sexual abuse of minors by members of church institutions is a deeply rooted problem in traditionally Catholic Spain. The country’s ombudsman on Tuesday presented a preliminary report from a task force of experts appointed by parliament to investigate such cases.

The group said that in its first two months of operation it had reviewed complaints from 201 people, mostly men.


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