Costa Rican bishops respond to alleged cover-up of sex abuse by students at Catholic school


March 15, 2021

The National Commission for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults of the Costa Rican Bishops’ Conference released a statement in response to the alleged cover up of the sexual abuse of a former student at the Calasanz Catholic school.

According to the local newspaper La Nación, a 21-year-old woman surnamed Cruz Carrillo made the accusation on social media that two of her male classmates sexually abused her in 2016.

The young woman’s decision to bring this complaint to light five years later was due to photographs and posters that began to circulate in the women’s bathrooms at the school, exposing similar cases, La Nación reported.

Cruz Carrillo spoke with the local newspaper and stated that “she and her family were pressured and manipulated by the then director of the institution, a priest from the Dominican Republic, as well as by the psychologists, for them to not file a criminal complaint against the two students.”

In response to the complaint, CONAPROME stated that it is carefully following “the investigation that the school is already conducting regarding this matter to clarify everything involved and to make the appropriate decisions, always according to the guidelines adopted by our Church.”

The commission reiterated its “total condemnation of any incident of abuse as well as any action that seeks to cover it up, especially if it was a minor that was abused.”

The commission added that the services of the Church are “available to listen to the complainants” and “to accompany them in their reality.”

“We inform them of their right to make the appropriate complaints, both at the civil and ecclesiastical level. We express our solidarity with the victims of any type of sexual abuse, in particular with those people who have been the object of this type of conduct in ecclesial settings,” the commission said.

CONAPROME “will follow up on any incident of sexual abuse in ecclesial settings and exhorts Catholic institutions to take up the investigations and responsibilities” of any such cases.

The bishops’ commission also “offers its support to these institutions to achieve these ends.”

Regarding similar occurrences in other institutions that have not been reported, the commission asked citizens “if they become aware of any incident, to make the appropriate complaint, in order to continue fighting as a Church for the creation of safe ecclesial environments for our children, young people and vulnerable persons.”

“Sexual abuse and its cover-up have been, in the words of Benedict XVI, an open wound on the body of the Church. We take on the commitment to do what we can to provide support to you and, on the other hand, it is important not to give rise to unjust and condemnatory generalizations which do harm to so many Catholic educational institutions that have done so much good for Costa Rican society for such a long time”, CONAPROME stated.

Finally, Juan Carlos Oviedo, the commission’s executive secretary, said that “each and every one of the incidences that are reported must be investigated, in order to eradicate this type of situation from our educational environments.”

In early March, CONAPROME announced the first national day of prayer for the victims of abuse in the country, to be held June 1.

Lisandra Chávez, spokeswoman for CONAPROME, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish Language news partner, that “Masses and Holy Hours that day will be dedicated to the day of prayer,” to sensitize the faithful to the issue.

In June 2020, CONAPROME presented the new protocols that will guide the Church’s response to any case of sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable adults by members of the clergy in Costa Rica.