Chilean officials raid bishops’ conference amid abuse investigation

Santiago, Chile, Aug 14, 2018 / 11:47 am (CNA).- Officials of the Investigative Police of Chile (PDI) raided Tuesday the offices of the Chilean bishop’s conference to seize information and statements from alleged victims of abuse perpetrated by the Congregation of the Marist Brothers.

According to Chilean officials, police are investigating 38 claims of sexual abuse related to the Marist congregation.  

Government officials and members of the PDI’s Sex Crimes Division arrived at 9:15 a.m. at the downtown Santiago headquarters of the bishops’ conference, to carry out a search order from Chilean regional prosecutor Raúl Guzmán, who is overseeing the national government’s investigation of cases related to the Marist Brothers.

After the search, which lasted for about 90 minutes, the prosecutor told the press that "we are collecting and complementing the information we have already received, particularly about the identification of victims who have lodged complaints about abuses of various types."

He also stressed that these records are "related to facts that we are investigating, which can be constitutive of crime, and which involves both victims and potential defendants."

After finishing the raid, the prosecutors and the PDI went to the headquarters of the Marist Brothers, in the commune of Providencia, to specify a new procedure.

The raid is the latest of several that have occurred in Chile in the context of abuse investigations. Other raids took place in the Diocese of Rancagua, the Military Bishopric and the Ecclesiastical Court of Santiago.

The Congregation of the Marist Brothers in Chile has undertaken a canonical investigation into allegations of sexual abuse against some of its members.

In February of this year, some alleged victims of abuse perpetrated by Marist Brothers met with Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the Pope's envoy to Chile, who was investigating the accusations of cover-ups made against Bishop Juan Barros or Osorno.

Spanish priest Jordi Bertomeu, who acted as the notary of those meetings, recorded that the papal envoy reminded the victims of their "right to denounce civilly" the abuse they had reported.

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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