Court upholds ex-priest’s 30-year sentence for abusing children

Spain’s Supreme Court has upheld a 30-year prison sentence for a former priest who sexually abused seven boys at a boarding school.

The court found that the abuse took place at a seminary school in the city of Ciudad Real between 2013 and 2016. 

The victims were all aged around 13 at the time. During swimming lessons, the defendant pulled some boys into the water by grabbing their genitals, the court said, and forcing others to stand naked in front of him as a “test of trust”.

In 2016, a church court defrocked the priest after receiving complaints about his behaviour and referred him to civil courts.

He was convicted of sexual abuse and sentenced to 30 years in prison by a lower court in 2020.

The former priest appealed to the Supreme Court, but the ruling was upheld and he was also ordered to pay a fine of €52,920 as well as €2,000 in compensation to each victim.

ANIR, an association representing victims of child abuse by priests, has welcomed the ruling.

“We don’t often see these long sentences. Previously, the Supreme Court had even reduced some sentences. Priests rarely go to jail in Spain. I hope [the decision] opens a path for this to become usual,” ANIR founder Ana Cuevas told the Associated Press.

A Spanish committee is currently investigating more than 200 complaints of sexual abuse against members of Catholic church institutions.