Disgraced religious order tried to get abuse victim to lie

Associated Press

February 17, 2020

By Nicole Winfield and María Verza

The cardinal’s response was not what Yolanda Martinez expected – or could abide.

Her son had been sexually abused by one of the priests of the Legion of Christ, a disgraced religious order. And now she was calling Cardinal Valasio De Paolis – the Vatican official appointed by the pope to lead the Legion, and to clean it up – to report the settlement the group was offering, and to express her outrage.

The terms: Martinez’s family would receive 15,000 euros from the order. But in return, her son would have to recant the testimony he gave to Milan prosecutors that the priest had repeatedly assaulted him when he was a 12-year-old student at the order’s youth seminary in northern Italy. He would have to lie.

The cardinal did not seem shocked. He did not share her indignation.

Instead, he chuckled. He said she shouldn’t sign the deal, but should try to work out another agreement without attorneys: “Lawyers complicate things. Even Scripture says that among Christians we should find agreement.”

The conversation between the aggrieved mother and Pope Benedict XVI’s personal envoy was wiretapped. The tape – as well as the six-page settlement proposal – are key pieces of evidence in a criminal trial opening next month in Milan. Prosecutors allege that Legion lawyers and priests tried to obstruct justice, and extort Martinez’s family by offering them money to recant testimony to prosecutors in hopes of quashing a criminal investigation into the abusive priest, Father Vladimir Resendiz Gutierrez.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.