Convicted Priest Has a Penpal: The Bishops’ Conference of Argentina Commissioned a Book to Defend Father Julio César Grassi

It was under the presidency of Jorge Bergoglio that the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina entrusted to a legal scholar an investigation of the supposedly false accusations against Grassi. The book is being distributed among the judges of the provincial court handling Grassi’s case.

By Carlos Rodríguez
Página 12
December 17, 2011

 [Translated into English by Click below to see original article in Spanish.]

In a book consisting of two volumes whose production was ordered by the Episcopal Conference of Argentina, in the days when its leader was Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the priest Julio Cesar Grassi is essentially considered "innocent" of the charges against him for "sexual abuse and corruption of minors," for which he was sentenced to 15 years in prison, a verdict which is now being reviewed by the Supreme Court of the Province of Buenos Aires.

Juan Pablo Gallego, a lawyer supporting the plaintiffs’ case, verified for Página 12 that the report, entitled ‘Studies of the Grassi Case’ (or, ‘Grassi Case Study’), was conducted by the law scholar, Marcelo Sancinetti, who contends that not only is Grassi innocent of abuses for which he was convicted, but also flatly denies that child sexual abuse existed as portrayed, to the extent that he equates it with the witch trials of the Middle Ages. Gallego said that he was informed through sources at the Judiciary of Buenos Aires, that “the book was made to reach the judges of the Supreme Court who are expected to reach a verdict today on the Grassi case, which would constitute ‘a very troublesome pressure maneuver.’”

The book, opulently bound, consists of a 423-page first volume and a second volume of 646 pages. Gallego, who at the trial acted as prosecutor on behalf of the Committee for Oversight and Implementation of International Conventions for Children’s Rights, specified that the legal scholar, Sancinetti, lays out two core ideas in the book: "On one hand, he argues that the Catholic Church is not required to accept the verdict rendered by the Courts of the secular state; and on the other, he asserts that the judges of the Kirchner era are the most biased since the return of democracy.” According to the analysis that Gallego made from his reading of the book, "the most serious thing is that, without any legal basis, it presents an emphatic denial of the very existence of child sexual abuse and even goes so far to say that those who encourage sex abuse convictions do so in order to seek their own redemption from the image of themselves as sex offenders.”

On the cover of the first volume, which examines the accusations made by the boy known as Ezequiel (his initials are H.O.J.), the author, Sancinetti, clarifies that it is a "provisional version subject to changes and additions" and that is a "private edition for the principals," that is, the members of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina. The book was published in 2010. Gallego acknowledged that the jurist Sancinetti has a "certain level of prestige" to the point that, among other things, he’s Professor of Law at the University of Buenos Aires, but also stressed that "what it says in the book has very little legal value, and reveals a reactionary and ultraconservative ideology that today is untenable for any serious jurist."

On the back of one of the volumes is expressly stated the direct intervention of the assembly of bishops during the ‘Bergoglio period:’ "The Episcopal Conference of Argentina entrusted the fulfillment of a judgment to professor Sancinetti, consisting of a study of the procedure by which the Reverend Father Julio Cesar Grassi was criminally prosecuted, judged and convicted of two instances of sexual abuse (related to one complainant) and acquitted by many others (related to two other complainants).”

The second volume, the more extensive of the two, examines the assertions of A.O., the boy known as Gabriel, whose accusations were substantiated by both the Tribunal Court of Morón and the Criminal Courts of Buenos Aires.

Gallego stressed that "the publication of the book, which includes material and information about the victims that hitherto had been protected by the Courts, is a scandalous instance of lobbying and exerting pressure on the Court to favor a man condemned for an extremely serious crimes.” Gallego added that "it is very serious, this attempt to justify the non-compliance with the decisions of the courts, and that doing so further hinders a process that has outrageously granted the condemned priest a situation of almost unthinkable freedom."

Sancinetti was also the author of another book of 1,141 pages called The Case Heads, a critical analysis of the charges against Gregorio Ríos and Alfredo Yabrán. This work was written at the request of the Yabrán family and, according to what was said at the time, the author received in return "payment of one million dollars," recalled Gallego. In that case, the businessman defended in the book was ultimately declared innocent. Moreover, Sancinetti was one of the defenders of former minister of the National Supreme Court, Antonio Boggiano, appointed to the position by former president Carlos Menem and with strong ties to the Catholic Church. Boggiano was dismissed in 2005 for poor performance in office and disqualified from holding other public positions.


















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