February 17, 2020
By Nicole Winfield and Maria Verza
The Vatican effort to reform the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order is coming under new scrutiny, with four Legion priests and a Legion lawyer due to stand trial on charges they tried to obstruct justice and extort the family of a sex abuse victim.
The preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 12 in Milan. The case is significant because it calls into question the effectiveness of the Vatican reform since the alleged crimes occurred at the end of the Holy See’s four-year effort to turn the Legion around.
In addition, evidence obtained during the investigation, including documents seized when police raided the Legion’s Rome headquarters in 2014, showed an elaborate cover-up that stretched from Milan to Mexico, the Vatican to Venezuela, prosecutors say.
The charges at the heart of the Milan trial center around a settlement proposal offered by the Legion to Yolanda Martinez on Oct. 18, 2013, to compensate for the sexual abuse her son suffered at the hands of a Legion priest at the order’s youth seminary in northern Italy.
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