NewsLandmark conviction: Vatican priest sentenced for sexual exploitation of minor

Landmark conviction: Vatican priest sentenced for sexual exploitation of minor

Images source: © Getty Images | Murat Taner

2:37 AM EST, January 31, 2024, updated: 4:37 AM EST, March 7, 2024

Disturbing case from the Vatican: Priest receives a 2.5-year prison sentence for sexually exploiting an altar boy. As ANSA, the Italian news agency, reports, Gabriel Martinelli committed this act when he was merely 14 years old.

Priest's Misdeeds Identified by a Polish Colleague

The heinous acts transpired several years ago in the Pre-seminary of St. Pius X, located adjacent to St. Peter's Basilica—Pope Francis's official residence. At that time, Gabriel Martinelli, 14, served as a seminarian caring for the younger residents of the pre-seminary.

Martinelli exploited a boy who was a year younger than him. He forced the minor into repeated sexual acts in various locations within the Vatican's confines.

The story surfaced, courtesy of a Polish seminarian who happened to be Martinelli's roommate. He reported the incidents to his superiors, who, regrettably, expelled him from the seminary instead of investigating. However, in 2017, he approached the Italian media and subsequently, the victim reported the misconduct to the authorities, leading to a formal investigation.

By 2017, Martinelli had already become an ordained priest. He was suspended from his duties a year later.

The Cleric's Verdict

The court delivered its final verdict in 2021 on Martinelli, who was now 31 years old. The court of first instance initially acquitted him. However, the verdict was overruled by the Court of Appeal, which sentenced him to 2.5 years in prison.

The priest was convicted for incidents that took place between August 2008 and March 2009. Charges of molestation filed against him for earlier offenses were dropped as he was younger than 16 at the time.

"At last, my client has received justice for years of suffering and distress. This is a landmark verdict that I hope will provoke a deeper discourse on abuse within the Church," lawyer Laura Sgro told the newspaper 'La Repubblica.' Her client was Martinelli's victim.

Marking a critical moment in history, this is the first case wherein a cleric has been convicted of sexual crimes within the Apostolic Capital.

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