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article imageIrish-born priest found guilty of sexual abuse of minor in Chile

By Igor I. Solar     Oct 16, 2014 in World
Santiago - A criminal court in Chile ruled that priest John O'Reilly is guilty of repeated sexual abuse of a minor, a former student of an all-girls’ school. The child was five years old at the time the alleged abuses took place.
The court decided by a majority that the Irish-born priest John O’Reilly (68) is guilty of the accusations regarding a minor who was allegedly subjected to physical contact of a sexual nature by the priest. At the same time, O'Reilly was unanimously acquitted of charges of sexual abuse against the elder sister of the first victim, because evidence presented at the trial by prosecutors was insufficient to prove the offence beyond a reasonable doubt. The sentencing was scheduled for November 11th.
During the trial, which began on August 1, the prosecution presented hundreds of facts and testimonies including statements of the two sisters, the alleged victims of the priest, and the versions of witnesses and experts.
During the 48 days of the trial, the priest used his right to remain silent, an attitude that was criticized by the prosecution. According to the public prosecutor, the priest took advantage of his position as spiritual guide in the school to repeatedly withdraw the sisters from the classroom and to bring them to his office at the school where the alleged abuses occurred between 2007 and 2009.
The prosecution is requesting a term of 10 years in prison for the crime accredited by the court. Luis Hermosilla, O'Reilly's defense lawyer, labelled the sentence requested by the prosecution as a "death sentence", considering the advanced age of the accused. At the same time, in his closing arguments of the trial, counsel Hermosilla announced the defense would ask for a mistrial and acquittal contending the story of the two alleged victims was induced by adults and are a "false memory."
Fiscal Lorena Parra stated that the evidence presented during the trial was evaluated by experts and fully supports the Court’s verdict ascribing responsibility to O'Reilly on the alleged sexual abuses.
Father John O'Reilly was born in Ireland. He came to Chile in 1985 to integrate the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ, and act as spiritual director at several schools and institutions of higher education linked to the congregation. One of these organizations is the “Cumbres School” located in the exclusive neighborhood of Las Condes in the Chilean capital, where the alleged abuses took place. In December 2008, the Chilean Parliament granted Nationality by Law to the priest in recognition of his meritorious work in the educational field.
According to La Tercera (in Spanish) the Vatican is analyzing the information collected in the indictment of father John O'Reilly, in order to decide whether a canonical process should start against the priest.
O'Reilly's was a passionate supporter of Mexican-born priest Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, who was accused and expelled from the Catholic Church for sexual abuse of minors, having sex with at least two women, and fathering at least six children, two of whom also were abused by the priest.
More about John O'Reilly, Legion of Christ, Catholic Church, Chile, Cumbres School
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