AN IRISH-BORN Catholic priest appeared in a Chilean court on charges in a sexual abuse case involving two young children.
28 August 013
Fr John O’Reilly faced the Fourth Southern Metropolitan Court in Santiago, Chile, as prosecutors presented a psychological report that said the priest suffered from an “immature and infantile sexuality”, “narcissistic conduct” and “insecurity and fragile self-esteem”.
The case covers the suspected abuse of two young girls, aged six and 10, in 2007.
They were in Fr O’Reilly’s care at the time.
The girls were students at the Colegio Cumbres, a private school in an affluent Santiago suburb.
Fr O’Reilly spoke briefly to journalists upon his arrival at the court yesterday, maintaining his innocence.
“Whatever God wants,” the priest responded when asked about his thoughts on facing possible prison time. “We all have to be respectful of that. Whatever God wants.”
Fr O’Reilly is a member of the Legion of Christ, a group of priests and seminarians founded in 1941 in Mexico. The group reached notoriety in 2005 when its founder and leader, Marcial Maciel, stepped down after a sexual abuse scandal.
Until 1983, the group required members to take a vow against criticising their superiors. Pope Benedict XVI banned that vow after the Maciel scandal.
Fr O’Reilly was the Colegio Cumbres’ chaplain and spiritual director until July of last year, when news of his possible involvement in the abuse scandal broke.
“The mother of our student made reference to Fr John O’Reilly,” read a letter the school sent home to parents and obtained by Chilean local press.
“The priest and Colegio Cumbres agreed to the suspension of all of Fr O’Reilly’s activities in the school until the situation is clarified.”
About 50 members of the Legion of Christ and people connected to Colegio Cumbres arrived at court yesterday to show their support for Fr O’Reilly.
The psychological report also said that he suffered from what it called a “social adaptation deficit” and recommended that, regardless of the case’s outcome, he not be allowed to continue to work with children.
Chilean Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse
Written by Rachel Stevenson on July 27, 2012.
Spiritual adviser to the Colegio Cumbres and legionary priest John O’Reilly has been accused of sexually abusing a child when she was less than five years old.
A statement by the educational branch of the Legion of Christ confirmed that the mother of the child, who was a student in a school belonging to the Legion, made a complaint against the priest.
In a public statement made yesterday, O’Reilly declared his innocence of all charges.
“I am fully confident that there will be due process,” he said. ”I have always had the utmost respect for the students and their families. I am convinced that after the investigation it will be clear that this is a terrible mistake and that my conduct has been correct.”
He also asked the legion that during the investigation they suspend his responsibilities. ”I think this would be better for the students, their families and for me,” he announced.
O’Reilly’s lawyer, Luis Hermosilla, declared that there was no case of sexual abuse. He also questioned why the family didn’t take the child to a doctor after the time of the alleged crime in 2010.
Mario Schilling, representing the child’s family, claims, “What the child tells us, in accordance with the testimony I have from one of the teachers from the establishment, is that the Father had certain favorites whom he constantly took out of class for spiritual activities.”
According to the lawsuit, the mother raised her concerns with the territorial superior of the legion, José Luis Cárdenas, in 2010. She also had a meeting with O’Reilly.
“The pretext or explanation which he gave the family was that the child would learn more with him then she would in the classroom,” says Shilling.
Colegio Cumbres has asked the Public Prosecution Office to investigate the accusations made by the mother. With the permission of the parents, the school has ordered an external psychological evaluation of the child. The school belongs to the Legion of Christ which in 2010 officially recognized that its founder, Marcial Maciel, was implicated in several instances of sexual abuse.
Irish missionary faces allegations of child abuse in Chile
Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:20AM GMT
School children in Chile (file photo).
Chilean authorities on Wednesday said that the missionary priest, John O’Reilly, is under investigation. O’Reilly, who works as a chaplain and spiritual advisor at the Colegio Cumbres School in the classy Las Condes district was suspended after a student’s family reported abuse.
“The information provided verbally by the mother of our student refers to Father John O’Reilly LC, who told the college that he is totally innocent and willing to cooperate in the investigation. The priest and Colegio Cumbres agreed to the suspension of all Father O’Reilly[‘s] internal activities in order to fully clarify the facts,” the Colegio Cumbres school’s statement said.
In his defense O’Reilly published a statement, in which he claimed that it was all a “regrettable mistake” and that his behavior was ‘above board’.
The investigation is, however, not limited to this case alone. According to officials Chilean prosecutors are also looking into child abuse reports in at least 60 schools across the country.
In recent years, a series of first-time state inquiries in the predominantly Roman Catholic country of Ireland have exposed shocking evidence of child abuse by pedophile priests and Church leaders’ attempts to conceal them. Similar cases have also been reported throughout Europe and the United States.