Priest Sentenced to 24 Years in Prison for Abuse of Minors
Héctor Pared was the director of a home for disadvantaged children in Florencio Varela. In determining his sentence, the judges took into account his “disdain for the victims.” The prosecutor had asked for 25 years.
March 18, 2003
[Translated into English by BishopAccountability.org. Click below to see original article in Spanish.]
Father Héctor Pared finished listening to his conviction and, now handcuffed, whispered in the ear of his defense lawyer: “It’s a lot, don’t you think?”
The Criminal Court of Quilmes sentenced him to 24 years in prison for first-degree sexual abuse and corruption of minors.
Pared, 44 years old, was in charge of Hermano Francisco, an orphanage in the province of Florencio Varela. Last year, he went to jail after a coworker charged him with a series of abuses.
The conviction handed down by the judges, Alicia Anache, Armando Topalián and Martín Arias Duval, is not lenient. The basis of the sentence, read aloud in the packed courtroom at the conclusion of yesterday’s hearing, was – among other things – “Pared’s disdain for his victims.”
There were a total of six cases of abuse against “very humble” boys. Over the course of the multiple hearings that prolonged the judicial process, those same boys testified to the abuses and other humiliations that Pared put them through.
The crimes for which he was convicted are the same crimes charged to another Catholic priest, Julio César Grassi, founder of the Happy Children Foundation. The Justice of Morón has processed Grassi for sexual abuse and corruption of minors, although in his case there are two alleged victims.
Like Pared, the charges against Grassi are qualified – that is to say, more serious – because both priests were in charge of the education of the boys they victimized; Argentine law punishes such abuse of power more severely.
The results of the psychiatric evaluations of Pared were conclusive. “For him, abuse of power is the means by which he obtains pleasure,” concluded a group of specialists who were present when the verdict was announced. Moreover, they determined he has a “manipulative” personality. In the interviews, Pared was quick to put a political spin on things.
While he didn’t agree to be questioned by the judges, on Friday, when granted the opportunity to give a final statement in his own defense, he said, between sobs, that he was innocent and that the charges against him could be reduced to a trap laid by the local politicians of Quilmes
But yesterday he didn’t cry, limiting himself to shaking his head in silence while gazing out at the sixty people filling the courtroom. A group of about ten elderly women were there to support him.
The victims testified to being manhandled in the shower, beaten with shovels and a hose, and threatened to not reveal what had taken place at the home. During those testimonies, the Court had Pared leave the room and listen to the proceedings from an outside telephone.
One boy said that “Father Héctor” asked him to massage his back and legs, and gave him a hand job. Another boy, the youngest of the victims, confessed to the judges that Pared obligated him to get naked, while Pared also undressed. He called the priest “King Kong.” Cross-examined by a psychologist, he declared: “I am afraid of him. So I keep a shovel under my bed.”
A third boy said that the priest caught him “stealing some coins,” and punished him by putting his hands over a fire. A fourth victim said the priest was “fat and hairy naked.”
Héctor Faustino Lezcano Pared was charged in 2000 by an agronomist who worked at the home, and detained on January 10, 2001.
The testimony of the agronomist, Luis González, was given at yesterday’s hearing. He said that Pared was “two-faced” and that the whole town knew about his homosexuality. “Ever since I denounced him, all the doors closed on me, but I had to do it for those boys,” maintained González.
The public prosecutor, José María Gutiérrez, had asked for a 25-year sentence. To the other charges he added the crime of torture, that, he said, Pared committed when he punished the boys. Gutiérrez said he had proof that Pared beat them, put pepper in their mouth to make them suffer, and, as an alternative punishment, forced them to spend hours standing with only their fingers against the wall.
The defense lawyer, Facundo Ferrari, had requested that the trial be declared null due to supposed irregularities. His request was dismissed.
In the courtroom, the verdict was applauded.