Priests Accused of Abusing Deaf Argentine Students on Trial

Priests Accused of Abusing Deaf Argentine Students on Trial

As the three accused - Corbacho and Gómez in handcuffs - were led down a long corridor in Mendoza's Palace of Justice Monday to a court where three judges awaited them, alleged victims and their relatives protested outside, with one sign saying "With Our Hands And Our Voices We Break The Silence," a reference to sign language

The 83-year-old Italian priest, along with the Rev. Horacio Corbacho, 59, and Armando Gómez, 63, are being tried for 28 cases of alleged abuse against ex-students at the Antonio Próvolo Institute for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Children in Mendoza province. They face prison sentences of up to 20 years in some cases, up to 50 years in others.

The alleged abuse took place between 2004 and 2016, and the case gained world attention when it emerged that Corradi had faced similar accusations at the Antonio Próvolo institute in Verona, Italy, and Pope Francis had been notified the Italian priest was running a similar center in Argentina.

Corbacho has pleaded not guilty to the sexual abuse charges, while Corradi and Gómez have not entered pleas. The trial is expected to last more than a month.

As the three accused - Corbacho and Gómez in handcuffs - were led down a long corridor in Mendoza's Palace of Justice Monday to a court where three judges awaited them, alleged victims and their relatives protested outside, with one sign saying "With Our Hands And Our Voices We Break The Silence," a reference to sign language.

"I am super-nervous, anxious and I hope for justice; that this ends soon so my son can move on to a new stage because this is very hard," said Natalia Villalonga, whose 18-year-old son Ezequiel is one of about 20 ex-students at the Próvolo institute who say they were abused.

The AP doesn't name alleged sexual assault victims unless they make their identities public, which Ezequiel Villalonga did in an interview on the eve of the trial in the headquarters of the human rights group Xumek, which is the plaintiff in the trial.

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