An Abusive Priest’s Worst Legacy
The court ordered tests to determine if the boys, who in recent years had lived with Father Héctor Pared, were infected. The priest died Monday. His disease was kept secret by the Bureau of Prisons and by the prisoner himself.
By Alejandra Dandan
September 4, 2003
[Translated into English by BishopAccountability.org. Click below to see original article in Spanish.]
[Caption: Father Héctor Pared, sentenced to 24 years in prison for “aggravated sexual assault.”]
This was his worst legacy. The priest, sentenced in March to 24 years in prison for child sexual abuse at Hogar Hermano Francisco, in Quilmes, died on September 1, a victim of AIDS.
Héctor Pared’s death may now set off a new scandal. The priest’s disease had been kept secret by both the Bureau of Prisons of the Province (Servicio Penitenciario de la Provincia) and by the priest’s religious superiors, who continued to officiate Mass throughout his prison stay at Unidad 9, in Olmos.
The members of Quilmes Criminal Court No. 3, who determined Pared’s sentence, learned of his diagnosis only three weeks ago, when they visited him at Rossi de La Plata Hospital, where he was an inpatient until his death. The court ordered HIV tests for the group of 12 adolescents who had lived with him in recent years. All of the test results are not yet known, but seven of them were negative.
The priest’s disease and his manner of death triggered a revisiting of the case. He was convicted in March, but had already spent two years in prison. Neither during the judicial proceedings, which lasted two years, nor afterwards, did the members of the court harbor suspicions about “the priest’s critical state of health,” a judicial source, convinced that [Pardo’s AIDS diagnosis] is at least five years old, told Página 12, adding that “a situation like this would have been an aggravating factor, a scandal at the time of the verdict.”
Although the subject [of his diagnosis] remained strictly confidential, the priest suffered various illnesses during his prison stay. Three weeks ago, members of the court seized the priest’s medical record from the Olmos prison hospital. According to the record, in February 2001, shortly after his arrest, Pared had “a recurrence of pneumonia, sinusitis, and skin infections.”
His situation remained relatively stable until March, when the priest appeared in court for the oral hearing. He was sufficiently well to stand and listen to his sentence for “aggravated sexual assault and corruption of minors.” He’d been accused in four separate instances, including sexual abuse, of which he was convicted.
For several years, human rights organizations were involved in the Pardo case, first denounced in 2000 by Julio González, an agronomist who was employed at the hospital. The criminal complaint included maltreatment and punishments, “rubber hose” beatings of the boys, threats, and genital massages, all consistent with the boys’ testimony in court. “The worst was when he began to massage my genitals, asking me to take a shower with him,” said one of them. “He threatened me, telling me he’d ruin me if I revealed what had happened to me.”
By then the boy was 13 years old, already victim of the sexual abuse, the lone charge that held up in court. During the trial he testified on condition of anonymity, and is now in the province’s witness protection program, known as Testigos Protegidos de la Procuración de la Provincia. He is one of those awaiting the results of the HIV tests that in the last three weeks were also administered to seven of his former classmates. “We still don’t know the results, but for all of us it’s been incredibly difficult because the trauma returned to the surface,” he said.
[Since the complaint was filed], the priest was imprisoned in Olmos and later at a special facility in Gorina. Three weeks ago, he was transferred to the Olmos hospital; 24 hours later, he was taken to Rossi de La Plata Hospital, at which time the members of the court received an official communication regarding his situation.
“He was in a sad state,” confided a source. His state of health contained multiple pathologies: pneumonia, cirrhosis, esophagitis, and terminal brain and liver infections, typical of the clinical presentation of AIDS. The disease diagnosis was confirmed by a doctor at La Plata Hospital. Those were the priest’s final days. “He was no longer himself,” said someone who was with him. “When the judges visited, he didn’t even recognize them.”
In October and November 2000, the boys who’d been abused underwent examinations including HIV tests. All those results were negative.
The boys who lived through this nightmare now find themselves in various places. Some are adults, married, or have children; others have taken up residence at Hogar Madre de Calcuta, which belongs to the Diocese of Quilmes.
Each of them has their own story, but all of them knew the priest, and none of them knows the exact number of boys who became his victims. To that end, they don’t know how far back his legacy extends.