Vatican Trial Acquits 2 Priests of Abuse at Minor Seminary

Two Catholic priests accused of abuse at the Saint Pius X pre-seminary, Fr Martinelli and Fr Radice have been acquitted. The trial for alleged abuse at the Pius X pre-seminary, a residence in Vatican City for nearly 20 boys aged 12 to 18 who help at papal Masses and other liturgies in St. Peter’s Basilica and are discerning the priesthood. Pope Francis ordered the pre-seminary moved outside of Vatican City State beginning in September.

At the end of the trial, opened on the 14th of last October, the Vatican Tribunal deemed the evidence presented by the prosecution for the crime of rape against Fr Gabriele Martinelli, 29, a former pupil of Pius X Preseminary, run in the Vatican by the 'Work Don Folci of the Diocese of Como. Former rector Fr Enrico Radice, 71, acquitted of aiding and abetting charges

Alessandro Di Bussolo - Vatican City

The Vatican Tribunal today acquitted Fr Gabriele Martinelli, 29, a former pupil of the Preseminary of Saint Pius X, from the accusation of rape and acts of lust against a companion seven months younger, when they were both minors, due to insufficient evidence. . Also acquitted was the former rector of the Preseminary, who was in the Vatican until September 2021, Fr Enrico Radice, 71, accused of aiding and abetting. Both priests are incardinated in the Diocese of Como, which manages the institute through the Opera Don Folci. Other crimes have been declared not punishable and for others the limitation has occurred.

The sentence after almost a year of trial

This is the main part of the sentence pronounced at 12.45, in the multipurpose room in the complex of the Vatican Museums, by the president of the Vatican Court Giuseppe Pignatone, for the trial for the alleged abuses that would have been carried out, according to the accusation, in the Preseminary of Saint Pius X between 2007 and 2012, by Martinelli, a minor pupil until August 2010, against LG, 7 months younger companion.

Alleged abuses in the pre-seminar, the final sentence on 6 October 2021

For Fr Martinelli, absolution, non-punishment and prescription

Specifically, the Court found Fr Martinelli not punishable for the facts that are contested until 9 August 2008, as he was under 16 years of age. He acquitted him of the alleged crimes for the subsequent period due to insufficient evidence and declared the criminal action extinguished by prescription regarding the crime of bribery of minors, for the period between 9 August 2008 and 19 March 2009.

The position of the former rector Fr Radice

For Fr Radice, the statute of limitations for the crime of aiding and abetting took place in the case of the letter sent to the then bishop of Como Monsignor Coletti, in which he asked him to file the case because the accusations were groundless. The former rector was also acquitted of the accusation of having written a second letter apparently signed by the Bishop of Como because the fact does not exist. Finally, declared not punishable for the declarations made to the Promoter of Justice on 6 September 2018.

The press release from the Court after the sentence

In the statement released after the sentence, the Vatican judges underline that the accusation was "based mainly on the statements of the injured person", LG, who also in the trial confirmed the accusations of having suffered sexual abuse several times, between 2006 and 2012 The documentation acquired in the trial, the judges still write, allowed a "more complete evaluation" of the relations between Don Martinelli and the alleged victim, "their evolution over time and the reliability of the declarations" made by the parties.

There is no evidence that the alleged victim was coerced

The Court established that "sexual relations, of various nature and intensity", between the accused and the injured person, which would have lasted for more than 5 years, are "ascertained" and truthful. But there is no evidence "to affirm that the victim was forced into such relationships by the accused, with the disputed violence or threat". The judges also add that "the impossibility of retaining the victim's compulsion beyond any reasonable doubt derives from some significant contradictions and illogicalities present in the statements made on several occasions by the victim". Doubts also emerge for the content of the telephone messages exchanged with Martinelli and from the fact that "many of the witnesses present in the same rooms in which, from time to time, the sexual relations took place have repeatedly stated that they have never seen or heard anything" .

For the defense, no credible evidence of crime

For the defense, no credible evidence of a crime emerged in the trial, which lasted almost a year and thirteen hearings. For which Martinelli's lawyer, Rita Claudia Baffioni, had asked for the acquittal for inadmissibility, that of Radice, Agnese Camilli Carissimi, the acquittal with full formula, like the lawyer of the Opera Don Folci, Emanuela Bellardini.

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