BACK in 2017, Nicola Corradi, above, was filmed in Italy by an undercover reporter joking about the sexual abuse of impoverished boys and girls at Argentina’s Instituto Próvolo for deaf-mute children.
The frail Corradi, together with fellow priest Horacio Corbacho 61, and former gardener Armando Gómez, 49, is now on trial in Mendoza, Argentina. The trio face more than two dozen charges of sexual abuse and corruption of minors who were students at the Insititute, located in the town of Luján de Cuyo about 800 miles west of Buenos Aires.
In a written statement provided to the media, those who suffered abuse at the institution said of the accused clerics:
They’re monsters in cassocks who committed abominable crimes against minors. We note that the Catholic Church has given financial support to the defense of the accused. That the results of the canonical probe by Vatican representatives Dante Simon and Alberto Bochatey have not been released is clear evidence of a cover-up and is a mockery of the judiciary and society as a whole.
In an interview with an Italian journalist, Corradi laughed and unapologetically described the abuse of children. A video recorded at a hospital in Italy showed the elderly priest boasting about his crimes.
In total, 14 individuals stand accused of various crimes in three different cases involving more than 20 victims. All of the victims were minors at the time of the abuse. One boy was aged just four when he was first abused. In one case, Jorge Bordón, 50, has already pleaded guilty to charges. The other two cases involve nuns Kumiko Kosaka and Asunción Martínez, as well as several administrative staff members.
The trial is expected to go to the end of August. However, because there are approximately 200 witnesses who wish to prove that systematic abuse occurred not only in Argentina, but in Italy as well, it may go into September.
Corradi had been accused of committing serious crimes of sexual abuse at the headquarters of Instituto Provolo in Verona, Italy about 10 years before he arrived in Argentina. Victims of abuse in Argentina claimed that Pope Francis, while he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, knew about the accusations of crimes committed in Italy but did nothing.
Argentine law enforcement ordered the closing of the Instituto Próvolo in Mendoza in 2016, arresting the two priests and twelve other suspects, including the two nuns. Another Instituto Próvolo branch, located in the city of La Plata near Buenos Aires, is also being investigated. Corradi managed that facility between 1970 and 1997.
Argentine and Italian victims of sexual abuse allege that Church authorities were aware of Corradi’s paedophilia but chose to put him in charge of deaf children, both girls and boys. In 2017, Bishop Giuseppe Zenti denied responsibility, explaining that he had no authority in the matter because Instituto Próvolo is the work of a self-regulating religious congregation.
The Instituto Próvolo centres are part of the Company of Mary for the Education of Deaf-Mutes, which was founded in 1840 by the Italian priest Antonio Próvolo. According to Bishop Zenti, the congregation depends directly on the Vatican. So far, the Vatican authorities have not commented publicly on the Próvolo case.
Accusations against Corradi and other religious of Instituto Próvolo were first aired in a report by Italian newspaper L’Espresso in 2009. The paper reported that 67 former students alleged that they had been abused in the years between 1950 and 1980, while they accused the Vatican of a cover-up. Twenty priests were accused of abusing minors in Italy. Among them were Corradi and the priests Eliseo Primati and Luigi Spinelli.
The three subsequently left, going to Argentina to continue their crimes. Primati is being charged with abusing children at the Instituto Próvolo installation at La Plata.
Corradi returned to Italy in 2017, a year after the revelations of abuse he allegedly committed.
A court in La Plata heard from victims of the horror of sexual abuse committed at night at Instituto Próvolo in Argentina. The abuse happened on weekends, when most of the students were away at home. The abusers focused on children who had no family members. The children at the Instituto Próvolo were prohibited from using sign language and could not communicate their horror to their parents. Also, they were told to turn off their hearing aids so they would not hear the screams of abused children.
One victim recounted that the older children were forced to abuse younger children while the abusers watched. Some victims alleged that the abusers threatened to kill their mothers if the crimes were revealed.
Sister Komiko Kosaka, born in Japan but raised in Argentina, has been singled out for viciously whipping children and handing them over to abusive priests.
According to a lawyer for one of the victims, Kosaka systematically beat children until singling out the most submissive to be raped by other abusers. Kosaka has maintained her innocence even while she is currently under house arrest and has posted bond.
One victim, who was a girl at Instituto Próvolo, said Kosaka turned her over to a priest named Father Corbacho to be abused. Another victim claimed that Kosaka dressed her in diapers at the age of five years in order to conceal the blood resulting from her rape at the hands of one of the abusers.
Ezequiel Villalonga, 18, is one of the victims who is to testify. Deaf since the age of seven, Villalonga said Instituto Próvolo was a hell on Earth, where he stayed until the age of 16.
I think that the Church, and everything in it, is false. Everything that they make us read, say, and how to be as a person.
Through a sign-language interpreter, he signed frantically:
They are false and demoniacal. Life was very bad there. We didn’t learn anything. We had no way of communicating. We didn’t know sign-language; we wrote but didn’t know what we were writing. We asked other students, and they didn’t understand anything, either.
Mendoza prosecutor Gustavo Stroppiana said the abusers attacked the children in the students’ dormitories, the priests’ quarters, and in the chapel. He said one victim alleged that he had been kept in chains. In a raid, police found condoms and contraceptive pills.
Said auxiliary bishop Alberto Bochatey of La Plata, who was named by Pope Francis in 2017 to take over the Company of Mary:
No words suffice to express our horror at what they endured … We must beg forgiveness and try to heal in the best way possible, without hatred. When I was designated, the first thing I did was to go to the victims to beg forgiveness, but I was thrown out. Even now I have not been able to do so. We’ll have to wait until the trial ends.