Catholic Church condemned for abuse case

Catholic Church condemned for abuse case

A Costa Rican civil court sentenced on Tuesday the Archbishop of San José, Monsignor José Rafael Quirós, and two instances of the Catholic Church to pay 65 million colones (100,000 dollars) for the “moral damage” caused to the victims of a case of abuse sexual assault in which a priest was convicted more than five months ago.

Father Mauricio Víquez Lizano was sentenced in March to 20 years in prison for the crimes of aggravated rape and sexual abuse in a case that dates back to 2002, when – according to what was exposed in court – the then priest abused an 11-year-old boy years old when he was in charge of a parish in the town of Patarrá de Desamparados, south of the capital of Costa Rica.

The lawyer for the complainants, Rodolfo Alvarado, communicated during the day that the sentence of the Collegiate Civil Court of San José is against Monsignor Quirós, the Episcopal Conference of Costa Rica and the Temporalities of the Catholic Church, which is a legal figure under which the Church has its assets registered. In addition to the 65 million colones, those convicted will have to pay an additional 10.5 million colones ($16,600) in interest and court costs.

“It really is an unprecedented ruling that the Costa Rican justice collects, exemplary, where it comes precisely to indicate the responsibilities of the Catholic Church, which has known since 2002 that these events were taking place and that it never did anything to stop them,” said Alvarado.

The Catholic Church said in a statement that it will appeal the court’s ruling.

“Before the Chamber (First of the Supreme Court of Justice) we will reiterate the existence of the statute of limitations and we will request… the correct application of the law,” he said. “As we have indicated since the beginning of the trial, we fully trust the judicial system and the Costa Rican judges, and we will abide by what is resolved in the final sentence,” he added.

Víquez was a spokesman for the Catholic Church on family issues and fled the country in 2018 upon learning of the accusations against him. He hid in the town of San Nicolás de los Garza, Nuevo León, Mexico, where he was captured and later extradited to Costa Rica in 2021 to stand trial. In 2019 the Church ordered his expulsion from the clergy.

In addition to the criminal accusation against Víquez, the victims of the former priest filed a civil lawsuit against the Church and Archbishop Quirós, who due to this accusation was unable to attend the meeting convened by Pope Francis in 2019 to deal precisely with the issue of sexual abuse.

Víquez’s defense insisted on the prescription of the facts denounced by the victims. This case, however, led to the law being reformed in 2018 to extend the statute of limitations for crimes of abuse against minors between 10 and 25 years of age in the Central American nation.

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