‘it Wasn’t a Night of Passion, He Told Me He Was Gay’: Vatileaks Trial Adjourned As Married Woman Who ‘emotionally Blackmailed’ a Spanish Priest Denies Affair
By Sara Malm
March 17, 2016
The controversial 'Vatileaks' trial has been postponed after the Spanish priest who confessed to leaking classified Vatican documents claimed he had slept with one of his co-accused.
Monsignor Lucio Vallejo Balda told the court in the Vatican that he had a night of passion with Italian PR expert Francesca Chaouqui, who then took to social media to not only deny that they had slept together, but out him as gay.
Married Chaouqui, who is six months pregnant, refuted Vallejo Balda's claims, and said that on the night in question, the Spanish priest had confessed his homosexuality to her.
|Confession: Monsignor Lucio Vallejo Balda (right) admitted in a Vatican court that he leaked classified documents but claimed he had been 'blackmailed' by ex-colleague Francesca Chaouqui (pictured left)|
The trial has been adjourned until April 6 after Chaouqui was advised to rest by doctors after Thursday's session.
Chaouqui, a former member of an economic reform commission established by Pope Francis, is accused of conspiring with Vallejo Balda and his assistant to leak documents which revealed serious irregularities in Vatican spending.
Vallejo Balda admitted in court on Monday to handing over files and passwords to journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, who are also on trial.
But he said he did so under duress having been effectively blackmailed by Chaouqui, with whom he claims to have had a sexually charged relationship culminating in a 'compromising' encounter in a Florence hotel.
Chaouqui has categorically denied having sex with the cleric, and wrote about her version of the night in Florence on her Facebook page on Wednesday.
|PR expert Francesca Chaouqui, right, arrives for the audience of the so-called Vatileaks 2 trial, Vatican City, on Monday, where she is on trial alongside journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, Monsignor Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda and his former assistant Nicola Maio for allegedly leaking confidential Holy See documents|
In the widely shared post, she implies Vallejo Balda had confided in her about a previous gay encounter or relationship.
'He told me something in confidence, something he said only I knew,' she wrote.
'I stayed, I listened. I cried with him. I understood what he was going through, as a man and as a priest.
'But he was my friend, and friends are for always, whatever may be hidden in their past.
'I was sincere, I wasn't pretending as perhaps he was. I was sincere when I told him it was not important if he had a lover, that it was not important what sex that person was...'
Chaouqui said the cleric's claims against her had made her decide to reveal what he had told her in court.
'That night and those confidences have been transformed into a night of sex with me, which according to Balda was his first time with a woman,' she wrote.
'In court I will reveal the details of what he confided, without judging I will recount them all, every detail. I have no choice but to do it for my own self-esteem and for the love of the truth that I owe to my (unborn) son.'
The prosecution claimed during the last court session on Tuesday that Chaouqui had sent the Spanish priest a WhatsApp message in which she warned: 'I will destroy you in the press and you know I can do it.'
He has also claimed that she led him to believe she had links to the Italian secret services and contacts with the mafia and powerful politicians.
The latest lurid details to emerge from the case is likely to strengthen the view of senior Vatican officials who regard the prosecution as a public relations own goal and have reportedly been looking for a way to bring it to a speedy end.
|Vallejo confessed that he passed documents to journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi (pictured) |
|Sitting on the bench from left, Italian journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, Ms Chaouqui and Monsignor Angelo Lucio Vallejo Balda attend their trial inside the Vatican in November|
The Holy See has been widely criticised for pursuing the prosecution of the two investigative journalists, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, who have published books based on the trial.
Fittipaldi's book 'Avarice,' and Nuzzi's book 'Merchants in the Temple,' detailed millions of euros in lost potential rental income from the Vatican's real estate holdings, millions in missing inventory from the Vatican's tax-free stores, the exorbitant costs for getting someone declared a saint and the greed of bishops and cardinals lusting after huge apartments.
The books were based on documents produced by a reform commission Pope Francis appointed in 2013 to get a handle on the Vatican's financial holdings and propose reforms so that more money could be devoted to the poor.
Vallejo was the commission's No. 2; Francesca Chaouqui was a member and outside public relations expert; and the fifth defendant, Nicola Maio, was Vallejo's assistant.
Vallejo admitted that he gave Nuzzi a five-page list of some 87 passwords to access the reform commission's password-protected emails.
But he said he did so after becoming certain that his email account had already been entered and that Nuzzi had already obtained the documents.
He also admitted to exchanging text messages with Fittipaldi about providing him with other documents.
Chaouqui introduced him to both journalists, he said.
Nuzzi and Fittipaldi face up to eight years in prison if convicted of putting pressure on Vallejo to obtain the documents and publish them. Vallejo, Chaouqui and Maio are accused of forming a criminal organization and providing the documents.
Balda has already spent over two months in a Vatican prison cell. He was transferred to house arrest before Christmas but is now back in the cell after a friend smuggled a mobile phone into his flat, breaching a detention condition that he should not have contact with the outside world.
The prosecutions against the five accused were brought under 2013 legislation rushed on to the Vatican statute in the wake of the first Vatileaks affair.
In that scandal, former pope Benedict XVI's butler leaked private letters which revealed bitter rivalries and infighting at the top of the Vatican hierarchy.