BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentine authorities raided a Catholic-run school for youths with hearing disabilities Thursday as part of an investigation into alleged sexual abuse of vulnerable children that has shocked Pope Francis’s homeland.
A police official in Buenos Aires province said officers seized documents from the archives of the Antonio Provolo Institute in the city of La Plata dating back more than 30 years. The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case, agreed to give details of the operation only on condition of anonymity.
The raid was ordered by a local prosecutor investigating “possible crimes against sexual integrity,” the official said. The documents cover the 1987-2018 period.
Provolo Institute officials could not be reached despite repeated attempts for comment.
The clerical abuse scandal has also marred other Provolo institutes.
At one of its schools in northwestern Mendoza province, at least 20 children say they were abused by priest Nicola Corradi, priest Horacio Corbacho and three other men, who were arrested in 2016. Dozens of students of the institute in Italy say they were similarly abused for decades, some allegedly by Corradi.
The Vatican knew about Corradi since at least 2009, when the Italian Provolo students went public with tales of abuse and named names. The Vatican ordered an investigation and sanctioned four accused priests, but Corradi apparently never was sanctioned for his alleged crimes in Italy.
The Verona diocese apologized to the Italian students in 2012. After the students again named Corradi as an abuser living in Pope Francis’ native Argentina in a 2014 letter to the pontiff and the Verona bishop, the Vatican still took no action. In 2016, a Vatican official said Francis wanted to assure the victims that the church was taking measures to protect children and prevent sexual abuse.
Unlike the Verona case, the statute of limitations has not expired for the alleged crimes in Mendoza, which could lead to prison sentences of up to 50 years for a conviction.