Philippine priest Richard Joey Aguinaldo found guilty on two counts, but avoids jail sentence.
The Santiago Times
09 January 2012
WRITTEN BY JUAN FRANCISCO VELOSO OLGUIN
A Catholic priest found guilty of abusing a young child and attempting to abuse another has been given a 4-year, 200-day probation sentence, avoiding jail altogether.
District Attorney Mauricio González, during part of the oral trial court of Colina, revealed the probation sentence on Sunday of Philippine priest Richard Joey Aguinaldo after he was found guilty of molestation.
Aguinaldo moved to Chile in 1991 as part of a Catholic congregation and worked in schools for many years, reaching the rank of dean in the Liceo Alemán del Verbo Divino in the southern city of Los Ángeles in 1993.
The sexual attacks occurred in the bathrooms of the school’s sister campus in Chicureo between March and October 2009, when the two children were in preschool. He remained at the school in charge of the Missionaries Department until the parents of one of the victims presented a case against the priest in late 2009.
Aguinaldo was in preventative prison between November 2009 and May 2010 and remained under house throughout the trial.
The priest has also been prohibited to have any proximity to the victims and prohibited to have a job in public office or be in any position which allows him access to minors while his sentence lasts.
The district attorney’s decision has provoked wide reaction across the nation. The Society of Divine Word (SVD) in Chile said that the organization would support the priest.
“(The SVD) will give its full support, so that in another trial he may have the opportunity to prove his innocence,” the SVD said in a statement. “With this as an objective, all legal resources will be used.”
The SVD concluded by saying “In the evidence of this shocking information that was revealed, which has been under public scrutiny, we would like to express our solidarity to all those who are victims in this painful situation.”
Fernando Palma, the lawyer defending Aguinaldo, revealed how he wished to ask for the nullity of the court decision, stating how he does not believe that the evidence is strong enough for the decision that was reached.
The lawyer representing the family of one of the abused children said, “(El tema de fondo) At the end of the day, the children were heard, they got around all the difficulties they encountered during this investigation and that has satisfied us.”
Claudia Sanz, the mother of the child Aguinaldo tried to abuse, was outraged by the decision.
“I find it horrible,” Sanz said. “How could the Chilean justice system say that he is guilty of abuse and attempted abuse, and after being found guilty, only give him four years and 200 days of parole and [he] remains free? What security as a mother can I give to my son?”
The plaintiffs have 10 days to appeal the sentence, which at the moment leaves the priest only on probation and out of jail.
This is only the latest prominent case of child abuse by priests in Chile. The most infamous case was that of former priest Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty but only given a sentence of a life of prayer and penance by the Catholic Church. He also avoided a jail sentence.
By Juan Francisco Veloso Olguin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Copyright 2011 – The Santiago Times