Priests in defunct Catholic order in Italy accused of sexual abuse


January 29, 2020

By Philip Pullella

Nine members of a defunct, cult-like Roman Catholic religious order in Italy’s Tuscany region are under investigation for alleged sexual abuse of two brothers when they were minors, authorities said on Wednesday.

The nine, including five priests and three other men, were members of a religious order called the Disciples of the Annunciation. Late last year the Vatican shut down the small order, which had several communities in Tuscany.

The Vatican dissolved the Disciples following an internal Church investigation into the religious life of their members. The investigation found that it was run like a cult by a charismatic leader.

According to the website of the diocese of the city of Prato, the local bishop, Giovanni Nerbini, informed local magistrates of the suspicions about the group.

Nerbini told a televised news conference that the first phase of the magistrates’ investigation was completed and that the local church would cooperate fully with them.

The Tuscan newspaper La Nazione said the nine were suspected of having had group sex with two brothers when they were minors. The alleged abuse took place between 2008 and 2016.

There was no immediate comment from any of the accused.

La Nazione said investigators had recently raided several houses used by the order in the past, searching for documents and videos.

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