Vatican Court Hears Unprecedented Sexual Abuse Criminal Trial

National Public Radio

October 26, 2020

By Sylvia Poggioli

[With audio that is somewhat different from the printed text.]

An unprecedented trial is underway this month at the Vatican, the result of a whistleblower going public.

A young priest is charged with sexually abusing an altar boy over a five-year period inside Vatican City walls. An older priest is charged with covering up the abuse.

It’s the first criminal trial for sexual abuse to take place in the Vatican court.

The first hearing of the trial, held earlier this month, lasted just eight minutes — enough for the Vatican court to hear graphic descriptions of the charges. The alleged victim, identified by his initials, LG, was forced “to undergo carnal acts, acts of sodomy and masturbation at different times and in different places inside Vatican City,” according to charges read out by the court clerk.

The alleged abuse took place from 2007, when the victim was 13, until 2012.

The crime scene is the closed world of the St. Pius X youth seminary, whose residents — some as young as 11 — are known as the “pope’s altar boys.” They serve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and are considering becoming priests.

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