Breaking the Silence
By Mariana Carbajal
August 12, 2012
[Translated into English by BishopAccountability.org. Click below to see original article in Spanish.]
“For ten years I kept these facts to myself. It wasn’t until 2000 that I was able to convey what happened to a friend,” Sebastián Quattromo (one of the plaintiffs in the case against the former Marianista School teacher and priest) told Página/12. Similarly, Eduardo M., the other victim, was unable to put into words the abuse he suffered for more than five years.
After they broke the silence and talked about what happened with other graduates of the school, Quattromo and Eduardo were able to locate other victims: two boys who had shared a room with him [the priest] on a graduation trip to a summer camp at Casa Grande, in Córdoba, and who informed them [Quattromo and Eduardo] that Fernando Enrique Picciochi assaulted them in the same way every night. These two other victims have been called to testify as witnesses. Picciochi was one of the teachers in charge of the group of 7th grade students.
In the court proceedings, testimony was given by Father Luis Casalá, who was regional head of Compañía María en la Argentina and President of Instituto Marianista. He said he didn’t know about the abuses until Quattromo and Eduardo told him, shortly before deciding to take the case to court. He also said he put the two young men in contact with Picciochi because they wanted to speak to him (see: A Meeting with the Accused).
Regarding the other episode of sexual abuse, which occurred at the school in 1991, and would have been perpetrated by the same teacher [Picciochi] -- and concealed by the same institution --, Casalá described it as “Picciochi losing his way and getting disoriented,” and said that the student’s family “didn’t want [the incident] to become known.”
The psychologist María Cristina Griffa also testified. Griffa treated Eduardo for two years and described the effects that the sexual abuse had on the young man. It left him, she said, with “an indelible wound that he’s trying to heal by bringing increased awareness to those forgotten events that made him ‘different’ than other youth.” She detailed other consequences from the abuse that will not be described here in order to preserve Eduardo’s privacy.
The psychologist Graciela Luisa Galeano, who has treated Quattromo since 1998, testified as well, relating how the episodes of abuse had affected him in his personal and sexual life. She concluded that he was not fantasizing.
The court proceedings additionally took the testimonies of María Silvia Martín Parodi, a licensed professional in social services, and Ana María Alcoba López, a psychologist, who had treated the two young men [Quattromo and Eduardo] in April 2000 at the Center for Victims of Sexual Violence, which relies on support from the Federal Police.
The two victims were initially guided on how to take necessary legal action. Parodi said that, based on her conversations with both of them, it was clear that “they were victims of sexual abuse: incidents that marked their sexual initiation.” Alcoba López said she “inferred their high intellectual level from their discourse, which leads her to believe that they aren’t confabulators.”
On October 31, 2000, Sala IV, of the National Criminal and Correctional Court of Appeals of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, confirmed the criminal procedure against Picciochi: “The professional opinion of those who testified under oath not only lends support to the authenticity of the victims’ accounts, but also reveals the cognitive and emotional ramifications that the incidents had on the plaintiffs.” The Court of Appeals was presided over by judges Carlos Gerome and Alfredo Barbarosch.
The National Court of Criminal Investigations No. 4 nonetheless mandated on December 20, 2000 that the complainants undergo psychological evaluations, carried out by the Medical Forensic Department.
In her conclusions, forensic psychologist María Elena Chicatto wrote: “In consideration of the [results of] the administered evaluations, it can be concluded that the accounts provided by the examinees, together with the aforementioned consequences, lend a considerable degree of credibility to [their having suffered] child sexual abuse during puberty, in the context of a religious school environment that placed them in a state of heightened emotional vulnerability.”