Since the end of last year in the Prosecutor’s Office of the Sixth Judicial District based in Recreo, La Paz, a complaint of sexual abuse has been processed. The alleged outrage would have happened in that department in 2002. At that time, the complainant was around 12 years old. Despite the complaint, the Prosecutor’s Office would have chosen to dismiss the complaint and send it to file. However, the complaint -represented by the lawyers of the local forum Ariel Díaz Sosa and Sebastián Ibáñez- opposed the file by prescription. Yesterday, first thing in the morning, the complaint was formally filed.
The complaint was published exclusively by this newspaper. Consulted by El Ancasti, the lawyer Díaz Sosa remarked that the antecedent of the case against Moisés Pachado, the priest denounced by an already adult woman, was cited. This outrage towards her would have happened when she was a child. The lawyer, based on this precedent, requested that the dismissal by the Public Prosecutor’s Office be annulled, so that the process can continue its process.
In November 2020, the Criminal and Warrant Appeals Chamber rejected the prescription request made by the defense of priest Pachado. The High Court was made up of judges Edgardo Álvarez, Marcelo Soria and Mauricio Navarro Foressi. The magistrates resolved unanimously. Pachado is accused of the crimes of “simple sexual abuse” and “sexual abuse with carnal access aggravated by being a minister of a religious cult.”
In the statement, “a very serious contradiction” was noted by the Prosecutor’s Office in the recitals of the opinion. In the opinion of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of La Paz, “every time it says that the criminal action is prescribed but then (in its conclusion) it requires the dismissal of the complaint for ‘not framing the denounced fact in terms of criminal law.’ Now, if the facts denounced -for the prosecutor- do not fit in a criminal figure, how can she affirm that the criminal action is prescribed when the limitation period arises -precisely- from the penalty contained in the criminal figure in which ‘prima facie ‘ frames the fact. If the denounced act does not fit into a criminal figure, then it does not have a penalty (it is atypical) and, therefore, there is no prescription criterion.
In addition, the complaint noted that the criminal action arising from the reported criminal acts (sexual abuse of a 12-year-old boy) “does not prescribe.” In this sense, he cited the International Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The complaint also cited as jurisprudence the Ilarraz ruling of the Superior Court of Justice of the Province of Entre Ríos. This Court had established that “declaring the criminal action prescribed would violate the principle of the ‘best interests of the child,’ which stands as a basic guideline of interpretation in the legal system for children and according to which when a conflict between the rights and interests of children and other equally legitimate rights and interests corresponding to persons of legal age, it is mandatory for judges to make the former prevail. For this reason, the provisions of the Argentine Penal Code, which regulate the periods established for the prescription of criminal action, are inapplicable because other norms of a higher hierarchy prevail, due to their belonging to the inter-American system for the protection of Human Rights.
Regarding this ruling, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (CSJN) indicated that it “warns that the State must guarantee that the internal process aimed at investigating and punishing those responsible for the facts of this case has its due effects. In addition, The State must refrain from resorting to figures such as amnesty, prescription and the establishment of exclusions of responsibility, as well as measures that seek to prevent criminal prosecution or suppress the effects of the conviction.
In legal matters, the National Law 26705, popularly known as the “Piazza Law”, sanctioned in 2011, had the objective of extending the statute of limitations. The Piazza law ordered that the statute of limitations should run from when the abused child turned 18 and not from the date the abuses occurred, as was the case until then.
In 2015, the legislation was modified through the National Law 27206 of “Respect for the Times of the Victims”. This introduced a substantial amendment to the Penal Code by extending the statute of limitations for crimes against sexual integrity and trafficking crimes committed against victims under 18 years of age. As established by the new law, the statute of limitations for the crime begins to run only when the complaint is filed, regardless of the age of the victim and the time that has elapsed.
The Network of Survivors of Ecclesiastical Abuses echoed
Known the news of this new complaint against a priest from Catamarca, the Network of Survivors of Ecclesiastical Abuses, through social networks, expressed their support for the complainant. In this way, they sympathized with this survivor. At the same time, they were available to accompany throughout this process. Currently in Catamarca only the priest Juan de Dios Gutiérrez came to occupy the bench of the accused. Last year he was found guilty of the crime of “aggravated sexual abuse” and sentenced to 12 years in prison. However, he maintains his freedom until the ruling is final. In December, the Court of Justice of Catamarca confirmed the sentence but the priest presented the extraordinary federal appeal. The CSJN must rule.
The cases against Renato Rasguido, denounced in Andalgalá, in 2014, and against Moisés Pachado, denounced in December 2018 in Belén, are pending. He is the first religious accused of a crime of this nature to resign from his parish. Gutiérrez and Rasguido were removed and reassigned to other locations.
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The lawsuit opposed the filing of a complaint of ecclesiastical sexual abuse