Former Vatican bishop sentenced for sexual abuse in Argentina
ROME – Argentinian Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta has been found guilty by an Argentinian court and sentenced to 4 years and 6 months effective imprisonment for continuous aggravated sexual abuse of two former seminarians.
His immediate detention was ordered by the court in Oran, Salta, on Friday morning local time.
“We cannot determine the extent of the damage suffered by the victims, but we have an obligation to give them an answer from justice and to give an answer to society,” prosecutor Pablo Rivero said Thursday, before call for conviction and immediate detention. .
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Zanchetta, the former bishop of the diocese of Oran in northern Argentina, is said to boast of his friendship with Pope Francis, who believed the bishop was claiming he was being framed when the allegations were first brought against him.
Zanchetta was made a bishop and appointed to Oran by Francis in 2013. He resigned at the age of 53 in 2017, citing “health reasons”. A few months later, Francis appointed him Assessor to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which administers the Vatican‘s financial portfolio.
In 2018 it became public that Zanchetta had been accused of both sexual misconduct and financial wrongdoing, although a Vatican spokesperson insisted there were no allegations of abuse when Zanchetta was brought to Rome.
In a 2019 interview, Francis explained the matter in his own words: “Before I asked for his resignation, there was an accusation, and I immediately brought him in with the person accusing him and the to explain.”
The charge involved the bishop’s phone, which contained gay pornography and sexually explicit images of Zanchetta.
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“The defense is that he got his phone hacked, and he did a good defense,” Pope said, adding that that had created enough doubts so Francis told Zanchetta to backtrack.
“Obviously he had, according to some, a despotic treatment of others – he was authoritarian” and had a “not entirely clear management of finances”, although, as the pope noted, this does not has not been proven.
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