Eight Years in Prison for a Priest Who Abused Three Altar Boys
Luis Sierra was a pastor in Claypole. The key evidence was a recorded confession. The verdict accounted for his abuse of religious authority.
By Maricel Seeger
November 17, 2004
[Translated into English by BishopAccountability.org. Click below to see original article in Spanish.]
“Are you ashamed of what you did? Because the dishonest abuse you committed is very serious, Father.”
“I already asked you for forgiveness. It’s in the past. I already said it wouldn’t happen again!”
That exchange, recorded by the mother of one of the victims during a conversation with the priest, was one of the pieces of evidence used by the Judge to convict yesterday priest Luis Eduardo Sierra to 8 years in prison for sexually abusing three altar boys.
Three years after the charges led to a hung jury, the Court of Lomas de Zamora ordered the immediate detention of the priest. Expressions of emotion and sobbing filled the courtroom following the verdict. This was the only visible reaction, since the defendant’s seat was empty: Sierra opted to not be present to listen to the verdict.
The priest, 39, was convicted of “first-degree sexual abuse” that he committed in the period of 2000-2001 against three altar boys between 12 and 14 years of age who were students at the religious school Ave María de la Obra Don Orione, in the Buenos Aires province of Claypole, where the priest was parish, legal representative, and teacher of catechism class.
The eight-year conviction was decided by majority. Two of the three judges, Jorge Omar Camino and Marcelo Hugo Dellature, determined that the coherence of the victims’ testimony confirmed Sierra’s responsibility for the abuse. Rafael Emilio Villamayor, the third judge, elected for a three-year prison sentence
Carlos Daniel Juan, Sierra’s lawyer, anticipated he would appeal the sentence.
In addition to the above recording, the charges were based on first-hand testimony of the episodes of sexual abused against the three boys.
The first case occurred in April, 2000, the alleged victim a 13-year-old boy. According to his testimony, the priest invited the minor to dinner at his home in Claypole, where he massaged him and told him to lose “his timidity.”
The second case occurred in January, 2001, also with a 13-year-old boy. The two had gone to dinner and the priest invited him to watch a movie at his house. “When I got there, he asked me to lie down in bed with him. I did as instructed because I greatly respected him, he was like a father to us. But when I got closer, he started to massage my genitals,” testified the boy.
The third case occurred on September 26, 2001, when the priest requested to see a boy who was in catechism class, and after giving him an evaluation, took him to his bedroom. According to the testimony, the priest hugged him, but he rejected the embrace. “Your problem isn’t in the head or the heart, but there,” the priest told him while pointing to the boy’s genitals.
The judges determined that the priest abused his power and authority. “He can’t continue as a priest, and cannot be allowed near children,” asserted Josefa, the mother of one of the victims. She also said that “the priest ended up working in Claypole because he had been removed from a school in Asunción, Paraguay where he had a history of child abuse.”
Family members, friends, and the victims themselves expressed that they were “in agreement” with the conviction.
Reports: Maricel Seeger