Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bolivian Priest Found Guilty of Sexual Assault in Chile

Bolivian Priest Found Guilty of Sexual Assault in Chile

SANTIAGO – A court in the Chilean city of Antofagasta on Saturday declared guilty of sexual abuse a Catholic priest of Bolivian nationality, who could be sentenced to four years and one day in prison, judicial officials said.

The incident occurred on March 17, 2009, when the priest Freddy Gutierrez Mendez, 59, received a woman in his office at Heart of Mary parish in the port of Mejillones, located near Antofagasta some 1,453 kilometers (903 miles) north of Santiago.

The victim, according to the case record, went to deliver her resume to the priest, who had promised to help her find a job, but after a few minutes the priest put his arms around the woman, kissed her on the neck, threw her on a sofa, licked her ears and breasts and touched her private parts.

The woman, known only by her initials – Y.M.G.M. – and who before the incident considered the priest her spiritual guide, had bruises on both arms, as was discovered later at a nearby hospital.

The priest’s defense argued that the woman had enticed him, and while admitting that the accused “interacted with her sexually,” it was done in a consensual manner, a claim that the court did not believe and ruled that the criminal act had been proved.

Sentencing will take place on June 23 and the priest’s defense attorney, Manuel Espejo, said his client will appeal the verdict.

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