Gianni Trotta allowed to coach football as police never informed of church conviction
The Irish Times
Peter’s Square in Rome: An Italian priest laicised by the Vatican in 2012 for sex abuse crimes may have subsequently abused as many as 10 boys. Photograph: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters
The Italian Catholic Church has been rocked by revelations that a priest laicised by the Vatican in 2012 for sex abuse crimes may have subsequently abused as many as 10 boys.
It is alleged that civil authorities were not informed of the Canon law conviction against the priest, Gianni Trotta, following his removal from the priesthood. In the absence of any black mark against him, Trotta was allowed to take over the training of an under-11 boys football team in the province of Foggia in Puglia, southern Italy.
In 2015 Trotta was given an eight-year prison sentence for the sexual abuse of an 11-year-old boy. On Tuesday, a judge ruled that he should stand trial next month, charged with the sexual abuse of nine other boys.
Holy See sources say it was the responsibility of Trotta’s diocese in Bari to signal his Canon law conviction to the relevant civil authorities.
The question of mandatory reporting of sex offenders by church authorities has long been controversial. For long, the Holy See has claimed that Vatican “confidentiality” with regard to cases heard by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith did not mean a ban on reporting serious accusations to civil authorities.
The US bishops’ norms on sexual abuse, for example, revised and approved by the Vatican in 2002, state: “The diocese will comply with all applicable civil laws with respect to the reporting of allegations of sexual abuse of minors to civil authorities and will co-operate in their investigation.”
Local churches worldwide have interpreted the mandatory reporting issue in different ways, depending both on local mores and the church’s relations with the particular country’s government.
In the case of Italy, the Italian bishops’ conference presented its first ever sex abuse norms for the protection of minors in 2014, a decade and more after similar documents had been prepared by other European conferences. The document urged co-operation with civil authorities but argued that bishops had no legal obligation to report abuse allegations to the police or other civil authorities.
Another ironic aspect of the Trotta case is that, once an abuser priest is laicised, the Catholic Church has de facto lost control of and power over him.
The state investigation into Trotta began almost by chance. Bari-based investigating magistrate Simona Filoni received a complaint from the parents of an 11-year-old girl who said that their daughter had been in online contact with a man who kept asking her to send him naked photographs of herself.
When the magistrate looked into the identity of the girl’s online correspondent, she quickly discovered that he was Trotta, who was already under investigation by two of her public prosecutor’s offices.
A search of the attic in the home of the ex-priest’s 90-year-old mother revealed a horde of child pornographic material. Investigators believe Trotta abused the trust of his small village near Foggia, continuing to present himself as a priest, long after his laicisation.
Priest ‘abused seven minors’ (2)
Defrocked in 2012, in jail since April 2015
(ANSA) – Foggia, June 20 – A southern Italian priest abused seven minors for some time, police said Monday as they served hm a fresh warrant in jail.
Giovanni Trotta, 55, defrocked in March 2012, has been in jail since April 2015 on charges of raping an 11-year-old.
The abuse of the seven young boys allegedly happened in the former priest’s home after he had been defrocked.
He was still posing as a priest and had his victims and their relatives call him “Don Gianni”, police said.
Disheartening beyond words. Unconscionable….
It seems that in 2012 an ‘internal’ investigation by the diocese found credible allegations of some sort against the priest suffice for them to do the right thing and get him out of the priesthood. Quietly. I can find nothing to indicate exactly what he had been found guilty of canonically. Nothing.
So away he went. He set himself up in a community. He misrepresented himself as a priest. He took over training of of a young boys football team. No one was told anything. Nothing. No warnings. Nothing.
That was 2912. In 2015 he was jailed for eight years for sexually abusing a young boy. The sex abuse of the child post-dates Trotta’s defrocking.
This Tuesday past he was committed to stand trial for the sex abuse of nine other boys. Those too were children he encountered after he was defrocked.
The fact that there was perhaps no legal ‘duty to report’ to police or anyone else is, for me, irrelevant. I believe that, for the safety and well-being of children and young adults, the dioceses have a moral obligation to report the results of all “internal’ diocesan investigations of sex allegations which are deemed to be credible. The faithful in the diocese should then be informed of the outcome at all Sunday Masses, the predatory priests’ name should be posted on the diocesan website, in every parish bulletin and on all Church bulletin boards, – and, yes, police should be contacted.
But no, they just let him loose!
What I wonder would civil authorities gave done had they known? I suppose first and foremast he may well have been charged and convicted and then those poor dear children would have been spared? Beyond that, – well, it’s something to think about
It amazes me sometimes at how resilient you are Sylvia.. I sometimes can’t read about what seems like endless charges against priests, and no one in a position to help taking the reins and DOING something… unconscionable is just such an understatement. I am literally sick at the thought of these innocent children being sullied by these disgusting men…
This is absolutely heart-breaking! What has happened to the thing we used to call “conscience”?
It pains me to say it, but Trump is right! Our world is a mess, and it’s up to us (not others) to begin correcting it.
I just wish that our church would be onside with us in this. The silence is deafening! Mike.
Mike, we do not even have to go far to locate where problems are in the Church. In Ottawa just very few years ago the Archbishop, when confronted by some Priests about the homosexual Priests in the Diocese, and asked if he was going to do something about it, his reply was * It was ever thus* Nice guy, eh?
I think you wrote to that nice guy recently.
1AS – yes I did, with the same results as before – silence. Mike.