Paraguayan priest accused of sexual harassment: the complaint was dismissed by the Justice

The priest in the trial – Image Judicial Power

The decision of the Paraguayan justice to dismiss the first complaint of an adult woman against a priest for sexual harassment ignited the alarms and the indignation of feminist movements. His defense warns that this is a “worrying” case of impunity, and warns of a “pattern” in judicial rulings that could suggest an influence of the Catholic Church in the courts.

This fact recalls the cases involving the former Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo, who, during the exercise of his priestly function, left several Paraguayan women pregnant. In 2009, Lugo hid his sexual actions as a priest, but after a public complaint, he acknowledged that he was the father of an illegitimate child, which he had had while still a bishop. Similarly, in 2012 he acknowledged being the father of another child, also illicitly conceived while he was bishop. Two other women have claimed paternity of his children.

Lugo then asked the Vatican for a waiver to dedicate himself to politics and even become president of Paraguay between 2008-2012, when he was removed by the Legislative Power, due to an article of the Constitution that made his removal possible, due to a tragic event where the police forces, under orders from the Executive, forcibly evicted the occupants of a land occupation, where 17 people died; (eleven peasants and six police officers), an event that provoked strong criticism in the country, leading to the resignation of the Minister of the Interior, Carlos Filizzola, and the police commander, Paulino Rojas.

the current case

The case of sexual harassment involving the Paraguayan priest Silvestre Olmedo could reach international bodies, said María José Durán, the victim’s lawyer, on Friday.

“From the office we are going to take the prudent time to do a more exhaustive analysis and on that make a decision (regarding) if the conditions are given to appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice, to the criminal court, through the figure of the cassation, without ruling out the possibility of going to international instances,” said Durán.

Local media reported on Tuesday that an appeals court annulled the sentence against Olmedo, who had appealed his one-year prison sentence.

The newspaper Última Hora pointed out that the harassment had occurred when the young woman was a volunteer in the San José parish, in youth groups, before civil and ecclesiastical authorities. She stated that the priest groped her, taking advantage of the trust she had in him. The case occurred in 2016.

According to the ABC Color newspaper, the court was made up of three members, two of whom voted for the statute of limitations and one for acquittal.

“We have not yet made the decision, we are going to go first for the conditions to reach the (Supreme) Court, then we would evaluate whether it would be before the United Nations or the Inter-American Court (of Human Rights). We have to make this decision with (the victim) Alexa (Torres). We have to do a detailed analysis of the content of the ruling,” added the lawyer.

Olmedo was accused of having sexually harassed Torres in 2016; The woman accuses him of having groped her when she was a volunteer in youth groups at the San José de Limpio Parish.

Óscar Rodríguez Kennedy, who was one of the members of the court and voted for the priest’s acquittal, told the ABC Color newspaper that the complaint was not part of the case and that the facts described by the complainant indicated an isolated act.

It stated that for the crime of sexual harassment to be proven, it is necessary that the act has been carried out with persistence and that the author has injured the person’s freedom.

In addition, he stated that it was necessary for the perpetrator to have authority over the victim.

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Paraguayan priest accused of sexual harassment: the complaint was dismissed by the Justice