Priest Accused of Abuse Is Absolved; Locals Misinterpreted His “Excess of Affection”
October 4, 2011
[Translated into English by BishopAccountability.org. Click below to see original article in Spanish.]
Twelve years after the criminal complaint was filed, the court has ruled that no crime was committed and declared the innocence of Father Virginio Juan Isottón. The judge factored the social and cultural context of the town [into her judgment].
The court absolved priest Virginio Juan Isottón, processed for alleged “abuso deshonesto” against three minors during rites of confession. The case was initiated in 1999, as specified in the final judgment, to which Online-911 had access.
According to the prosecuting argument, the abuses would have been committed in a church in Cañuelas during rites of confession that preceded the children’s First Communion. In this context, as stated in the accusation, the accused priest sat the children on his knees, caressed their legs, arms, and back, and kissed their neck.
In his defense, the priest said “I never had bad intentions,” an assertion he maintained throughout the investigation, carried out by former prosecutor Víctor Violini, who is now Court Judge in Buenos Aires.
Judge María Florencia Butiérrez ruled that the charge of “abuso deshonesto” could not be substantiated. Rather, [the priest’s actions] could be interpreted as an excess of affection that confused the inhabitants of an “eminently conservative town” with “ingrained moral and religious values.”
To arrive at her decision to absolve [the priest] of guilt, the judge considered valuable the testimony of the three alleged victims, who maintained that the priest “never” told them, or insinuated to them, anything “inappropriate.”
The priest, who currently resides at Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza parish, in the neighborhood of Esperanza de Virrey del Pino, González Catán, arrived freely at the public debate.
Virginio Juan Isottón completed primary school in La Tablada, high school in Ciudad Evita, and seminary in La Plata. His first destination as parish was Cañuelas, from 1993 until 1999, at which time he had to be transferred to Ciudadela following the abuse scandal. He’s been in Virrey del Pino since 2000.
He reports to the [missionary religious congregation of the] Diocesan Oblates, which he joined in 1984.
In September 2007, he asked a legal expert of La Matanza to “clarify my status since my current situation signifies a burden as long as it’s unresolved.”
He was absolved.