Investigation of Priest Accused of Molesting Two Female Students at Catholic School in Flores
-The accused priest is in charge of the Santa Clara parish
-The incidents would have occurred two weeks ago
-The parents of the girls, 12 and 13 years old, filed the criminal complaint
-The Church says an investigation is underway
May 25, 2001
[Translated into English by BishopAccountability.org. Click below to see original article in Spanish.]
The parents of two female students of a Catholic school in Flores denounced a priest in Flores for molesting their daughters. And yesterday, several female classmates of the girls spoke out against the priest, saying that he’d also been “unholy” towards them.
According to Gustavo Schiuma, the father of one of the girls allegedly groped by the priest, his and the other parent’s criminal complaint was filed two weeks ago.
Yesterday, while standing at the entrance to the school, he recalled what had been relayed to him by his daughter: it was a Tuesday, and his 12-year-old daughter, together with 10 classmates at Instituto Monseñor Stillo, on Zuviría 2660, had lunch in a parish hall in front of the school.
“Since on Tuesdays the girls have gymnastics and their schedules are busy, they stay to eat in the parish hall,” said Schiuma. He went on to say that, on this particular Tuesday, Father Carlos María Gauna arrived at the parish hall. Father Guana is in charge of the Santa Clara parish and is the legal representative for the co-ed school, Instituto Monseñor Stillo, where students have nicknamed him “Chatty” and describe him as being about 45 years old.
In the criminal complaint, Schiuma denounced that during lunch that day, when one of the girls, who is 13 years old, got up to get a glass of soda, “the priest passed next to her and touched her butt.” At that moment, according to the witness report of the other girls, she lashed out at him for what he’d just done: “Father, what are you doing, you’re disrespecting me,” to which the priest responded: “That’s lunacy.”
The group left the parish hall for the gymnasium. But a few minutes later another similar episode would have occurred, involving Schiuma’s daughter, this time inside the school.
According to Schiuma’s criminal complaint, when his daughter went to the administrative offices to pay her monthly tuition, the priest used the occasion to grope her. In conversation with Clarín, Schiuma, shaking with rage, said: “My daughter, in tears, told me he hugged her and touched her butt.”
Then the girls, who are first-year secondary students at the school, went to complain to the academic director, Rubén Mercali, who told them he would speak with the priest, but that they should keep quiet “to not spread rumors and generate gossip.”
The situation escalated several days later, when one of the girls told her brother what had happened with the priest, which led to the parents finding out.
“My daughter first denied everything to me because that was what the academic director had instructed them to do,” said Schiuma.
Five concerned parents met with school officials. But the parents of the two girls directly involved decided to issue a complaint at Police Station 38.
The molestation case was officially opened yesterday by Juvenile Court No. 6. T he case will be handled by Adriana Leira. At present, the priest cannot step foot on the school premises.
In a televised appearance on cable channel TN, a spokesman for the Church of Buenos Aires said they were taken aback: “This individual has many years of priesthood and never was there a complaint.” He added: “The parents can rest assured that we are investigating what happened.” Shortly after this statement, two other details became known: the Archbishop of Buenos Aires’s “virtual intervention” at the school, and the provisional apartment of the accused priest.
The priest's situation will be resolved by the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Monsignor Jorge Bergoglio, who arrived yesterday from Rome, where he participated in a meeting of the College of Cardinals.
Yesterday, students at Instituto Monseñor Stillo were rowdy and rehearsed a protest at the school entrance. Some parents went to see the cause of the commotion. From there opinions began to diverge: some defended the school and the priest; others raised their suspicions of the priest.
Among the students, the opinion was more unanimous: “This was a long time coming because this bum behaves inappropriately,” said a third-year female student, whose hair was cut in the style of Natalia Oreiro. Another female student said: “Whenever he saw you he reached out his hand or gave you a kiss here,” pointing to the corner of her mouth.
“The priest likes to play ‘wandering hand,’ particularly with the elementary school girls,” said another female student. “He tells the girls, ‘Be careful, here comes the wandering hand,’ and pats them on the butt, and, in passing, he fondles them,” added the student as she blew a mouthful of smoke from her black cigarette.
No school official wished to speak to the press. A teacher said in passing that “within the school, nothing happened.” Javier Chiaparo, director of primary education, said: “All there is, is the complaint of some parents. Nothing more.”