Józef Wesołowski, who is accused of abusing teenage boys in the Dominican Republic and being in possession of child pornography, was hospitalized on the eve of his Vatican trial, and a new date has not been set as of July 20.
The National Catholic Register
20 July 2015
VATICAN CITY — Former archbishop and nuncio Józef Wesołowski, accused of sexually abusing teenage boys in the Dominican Republic and being in possession of child pornography, has returned to living under house arrest in the Vatican.
Wesołowski, 66, had been hospitalized in “intensive care” on the eve of his trial at the Vatican, forcing the indefinite postponement of his trial on July 11. The Vatican issued a statement that day saying he had been placed in intensive care, and medical records said he had been struck by a “sudden illness,” but after three days, he had been released from hospital.
Antonello Blasi, Wesołowski’s lawyer, told journalists July 11 he hadn’t been notified about any specific illness.
“I saw him two or three days ago, and, given his age and his state of mind, he was fine,” said Blasi. The lawyer told the court that Wesolowski, who has been under house arrest in a room above the courtroom, had been “willing and able” to come to court.
Vatican spokesman Father Ciro Benedettini, citing reasons of patient privacy, declined to divulge details of the former nuncio’s illness, including which hospital he was admitted to.
In a statement released July 11, the Vatican said the court “took due note of the impediment to the presence of the defendant, following the onset of an unexpected illness necessitating his transfer to a public hospital, where he is currently in the intensive care unit.”
It added that in accordance with established procedures, the tribunal “suspended the trial and postponed it until a later date, awaiting the termination of the cause that has given rise to the postponement.”
But the news agency AGI disclosed that Wesołowski was discharged from hospital after three days of hospitalization. His trial was adjourned because his condition “seemed serious,” the news agency wrote, “but maybe it was not.” It added that the accused nuncio’s conditions weren’t “classified as ‘code red.’”
The Italian daily newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano, quoting anonymous sources at Gemelli Hospital in Rome, claimed July 17 that the former archbishop arrived at the hospital in a “state of confusion,” apparently suffering from a mixture of alcohol and drugs. He was then kept under observation for three days.
Wesolowski is the first high-ranking Vatican prelate to be criminally charged at the Holy See for sexually abusing minors.
His trial is being viewed as a high-profile way for Pope Francis to fulfill pledges to prosecute Churchmen involved in sex abuse of minors, whether through direct contact with individuals or by covering up for the offenders. Recent modifications to the Vatican legal code under Francis’ leadership have allowed prosecutors to broaden their case against Wesolowski.
Il Fatto Quotidiana, which reported that Pope Francis was “quite irritated” by the abrupt delay in the trial, claimed from reliable but anonymous sources that a “Polish lobby” wants to avoid criminal prosecution for Polish-born Wesołowski, who could face a sentence of up to 10 years if found guilty.
Critics already say that Wesołowski is being handled too leniently. Despite being under house arrest for health reasons, they have criticized the fact that he has been seen walking the streets of Vatican city state. The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors won’t comment on the trial, as it has a policy of not speaking publicly about individual cases.
The former nuncio is charged with possession of what prosecutors described as “enormous” quantities of child pornography on his two computers. These were also found after Wesolowski had been recalled to the Vatican, amid rumors he had sexually abused shoeshine boys near Santo Domingo’s waterfront.
Before being adjourned, the clerk read out the charges during the six minutes of the trial on July 11. These included one of “conduct that offends the principles of Christian religion or morality for having repeatedly accessed pornographic sites,” including while in Vatican City. The trial indictment also accused him of causing psychological damage to his victims.
The Vatican said in a June 15 statement that Wesołowski has been accused of a number of offenses, “some committed during his stay in Rome from August 2013 until the moment of his arrest, on Sept. 22, 2014.” Other offenses were allegedly committed when he was nuncio to the Dominican Republic and apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico, from 2008 to 2013, the Vatican said.
It added that, with regard to the period spent in Rome, Wesołowski is “charged with the offence of possession of child pornography” under a new law introduced by Pope Francis in 2013. It said the allegations referring to the preceding period “are based on evidence transmitted by the judicial authorities of Santo Domingo in relation to the sexual abuse of minors.”
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told journalists June 15 that no request from the Dominican Republic had, at that time, been submitted by Vatican authorities with regard to the case.
Wesołowski was stripped of his diplomatic immunity and laicized last June, after the first stage of a canonical trial, but has since appealed against the decision to laicize him.
When the trial resumes, the Vatican says it will be alert to any testimonies that might show other prelates had heard allegations about Wesolowski’s conduct but stayed quiet.
The Vatican stated that these serious allegations will be carefully investigated, together with civil authorities in the Dominican Republic if necessary.
“This will be a delicate and detailed procedure,” Father Lombardi said, “requiring the most careful observations and insights from all parties involved in the trial.”
Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.
Posted in World News, on July 13th, 2015
Vatican court delays abuse trial after ex-nuncio hospitalized
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Vatican magistrates have decided to postpone the proceedings of a criminal trial against a former Vatican nuncio due to the defendant’s ill health.
However, during the trial’s opening session July 11, Vatican prosecutors formally listed all the charges against the laicized former archbishop, Jozef Wesolowski. Only two charges — the sexual abuse of minors in the Dominican Republic and possession of child pornography in Rome — had been made public in mid-June.
Vatican magistrates also have indicted him on charges of causing serious psychological distress and harm to adolescent victims of sexual abuse and for offending religious and Christian morals with his repeated use of online pornography abroad and on Vatican City State property.
The Vatican trial was adjourned until an unspecified future date because the defendant was in an intensive care unit in a “public hospital” in Rome after experiencing a “sudden illness” the afternoon of July 10, according to a Vatican communique. The Vatican tribunal is typically closed for summer recess from mid-August to the end of September.
During the opening hearing, which lasted just six minutes, the Vatican prosecution read out the following five charges against Wesolowski:
— Procuring and possessing on Vatican City State property “and elsewhere,” a “large amount” of “material from Internet sites” depicting minors under the age of 18 in sexually explicit acts or poses.
— Having “corrupted, by means of lewd acts, adolescents presumably between the ages of 13 and 16,” in the Dominican Republic, where Wesolowski had served as a Vatican nuncio from 2008 to 2013 when he was recalled to the Vatican. Vatican prosecutors said the acts occurred “at least once out in public” and at least once in the presence of Francisco Javier Occi Reyes, a deacon. According to news reports, Occi, who was arrested in 2013 for soliciting minors, confessed in a letter that he solicited the children for the former archbishop.
— Having acquired, received, hidden or possessed on two computers child pornography “and therefore, things deriving from a crime.”
— Having caused “serious injury to adolescent victims of sexual abuse, consisting of mental distress.”
— Having “harbored conduct that offends religious principles or Christian morality” by repeatedly logging on to pornographic sites while in the Dominican Republic, Rome, Vatican City State and elsewhere.
The defendant’s lawyer, Antonello Blasi, told pool reporters after the opening session that he only just learned about his client’s hospitalization that morning.
After the hearing he asked to review the medical evidence that had been handed to the court judge certifying the former archbishop’s condition, which was not made public to protect the patient’s right to privacy.
Blasi told pool reporters that the last time he saw his client was “two or three days ago” and that considering the man’s age and the circumstances, he had looked to be in good health. Wesolowski turns 67 July 15.
The July hearing was the first criminal trial by the Vatican court for the allegation of sexual abuse of minors.
Vatican City State authorities had carried out their own criminal investigation, which included a number of sessions of interrogating the former archbishop.
The criminal charges against the Polish national, who still has Vatican City State citizenship, were possible after 2013, when Pope Francis approved new and expanded criminal laws, which became applicable to all Vatican employees around the world. Any direct employee of the Holy See, including those working in a Vatican office or nunciature, can face a criminal trial at the Vatican as well as face criminal prosecution in the country where the crimes occurred.
Vatican City civil laws are separate from the universally applicable canon law, norms and sanctions, which require bishops around the world to turn over to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cases of priests accused of child sexual abuse or possession of child pornography.
Wesolowski was dismissed from the clerical state in June 2014 after the doctrinal congregation’s investigation.
Vatican City, 11 July 2015 (VIS) – This morning, at 9.30, at the Vatican City State Tribunal, the first hearing took place in the criminal trial of the ex-nuncio to the Dominican Republic Jozef Wesolowski, indicted for the crime of possession of child pornography and for paedophile acts.
The panel of judges is composed of Professor Giuseppe Dalla Torre, president; Professor Piero Antonio Bonnet; Professor Paolo Papanti-Pellettier; and Professor Venerando Marano, substitute.
The promoter of Justice is Professor Gian Piero Milano, assisted by Professor Alessandro Diddi and Professor Roberto Zannotti. The defence counsel is Antonello Blasi.
At the opening of the trial the promoter of Justice announced that the defendant was not present in court as he has been admitted to hospital.
The Court took due note of the impediment to the presence of the defendant, following the onset of an unexpected illness necessitating his transfer to a public hospital where he is currently in the intensive care unit.
In accordance with Article 471 c.p.p. the Tribunal suspended the trial and postponed it until a later date, awaiting the termination of the cause that has given rise to the postponement.