The Chilean priest Fernando Karadima was acquitted today of allegations against him for sexual abuse; the determination is based on the statute of limitations for the time elapsed between the commission of the acts and the investigation.
In an 84-page decision judge Jessica Gonzalez dismissed the charges against the priest Fernando Karadima, 80. In her ruling, the judge confirms that there was participation of the former pastor of The Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish (“El Bosque” Parish), in the crime, but in consideration of the time elapsed between the occurrence of the crime and the reporting of the facts, the case had to be dismissed. The judge declared that in fact, the priest’s touching and kissing of seminarians, other priests and young parishioners were a pattern of conduct of the former pastor that took place since 1962.
The case came to light in April 2010. Digital Journal reported on this at the time the Chilean Catholic Church admitted the existence of sexual abuses and apologized for them.
The judge said that after eight months of investigation it was proved on the basis of testimony and evidence that the priest "had a strong character, he was charismatic, authoritarian, controlling and imposing of his will on the young seminarians and priests led by him." The decision also established that the cleric "forged within ‘El Bosque’ Parish an ideology that extolled him, that brought to him veneration by those who were part of his inner circle, that encouraged and in fact materialized emotional and psychological dependence, indoctrinating followers to ensure loyalty and fidelity to him as their spiritual director, thus creating a true unrestricted dogma around himself."
Judge Gonzalez found true that “father Karadima touched repeatedly in public with his knuckles the genitals of young people including altar boys, young parishioners and some seminarians and priests. Although the facts were not generally interpreted by them as sexually aggressive actions, such invasive behaviour is not typical of a priest and subtle acts such as these allowed more serious conduct affecting people in vulnerable positions."
Also in the ruling, the judge finds that three of the four victims were sexually abused by Karadima while he acted as their spiritual guide. The investigation validated the victims as journalist Juan Carlos Cruz, lawyer Fernando Batlle and physician James Hamilton. In the case of a fourth person, the philosopher José Andrés Murillo, the judge noted that "at the time of occurrence of the alleged acts he was older than age 18."
The judge ruled that because the crimes investigated were committed between 1980 and 1995 and the present investigation was initiated in April 2010, the criminal responsibility of Fernando Karadima for the crimes of repeated sexual abuses is extinguished from prosecution by prescription.
Because the verdict of he judge the priest is now free from prosecution unless one of the participants go to the Santiago Court of Appeals to reverse the ruling of first instance.
A few months ago the ecclesiastical justice (the Vatican) also determined the priest's guilt and sentenced him to suspension from his priestly ministry, confinement in a religious compound and to maintain a life of meditation and prayer. The video below reports on the decision of the Catholic Church on the culpability of Fernando Karadima.