Sexual Abuse in the Church: Healing Priest Declares His Innocence
After being held in detention for a week in San Luis, ex-priest Miguel Santurio was escorted last night in Posadas by a sizable group of police officers to testify before judge Marcelo Cardozo.
July 18, 2013
[Translated into English by BishopAccountability.org. Click below to see original article in Spanish.]
Charged with nine counts of sexual abuse, former priest Miguel Ángel Santurio, Uruguayan by birth but naturalized Argentine, 50 years old, with current residence in the town of El Durazno, San Luis, testified today in Posadas.
The ex-priest was arrested on a street in the province of San Luis while driving a Fiat Qubo. He was officially called before a court in Posadas for arraignment.
Former priest Miguel Ángel Santurio rejected the charges and said he never abused anyone, this after acting judge Marcelo Cardozo, of Criminal Court No. 1 (standing in for presiding judge Fernando Verón of Criminal Court No. 3, presently on vacation), informed the defendant of the charges against him.
Santurio came under investigation in Puerto Iguazú for the alleged crime of trafficking and various instances of sexual abuse against young parishioners who were “co-opted” by his church.
His arrest came as a result of the San Luis Police having received, from the Office of Complex Investigations of the province of Misiones police department, a note in which reference was made to an official letter (with identifier 2054 / 13, issued from Criminal Court No. 3 - Department No. 1 of First Judicial District), that ordered the identification and immediate detention of Santurio, in accordance with documentation 1812 / 09, Prosecuting Agent No. 2.
It bears mentioning that Santurio got his start at San Luis diocese, and from there was transferred to Puerto Iguazú, Misiones, where he was accused of abusing three local girls, for which he was found innocent by the Federal Court of Argentina.
The church, for its part, decided to have Santurio stand trial in an ecclesiastical court, which, in November 2012, found him guilty and expelled him from the clergy.
After his expulsion from the Catholic church, Santurio worked as a faith healer, practicing laying on of hands and other spiritual healing practices, according to La Gaceta, a San Luis newspaper.
Lawyer Roxana Rivas, who is representing one of the victims of Santurio, said, “The situations of abuse are done within a context of a healing ritual or exorcism,” adding that Santurio “is a person who has to be removed from the street, he’s a danger, even more so when the families of these girls are caught in the middle, in the church, and no one believe them.”