"I Freed Myself from a Heavy Weight"
"Justice Has a Liberating Effect"
September 27, 2012
[Translated into English by BishopAccountability.org. Click below to see original article in Spanish.]
For Sebastián Cuattromo, the sex abuse conviction of an ex-priest of the Marianista de Caballito School means the end of a painful road that was full of obstacles. “I feel a remarkable calmness. Justice, when it is served, has a liberating effect,” he told Clarín the day after the verdict of 12 years of prison for Fernando Enrique Picciochi (48), who abused him and another student during a summer camp in Córdoba, when they were 13 years old.
“I freed myself from a heavy weight. The sensation is that of closing the circle that one fights to do, above and beyond what is personal,” says this 36-year-old man who, with his drive and perseverance, contributed to bringing this case to justice. “I believed that what happened to me wasn’t an isolated case. And I convinced myself to have the courage to give testimony not only for myself, but also for the other victims.”
For more than 10 years he kept his nightmare a secret. “Blame, embarrassment, self-incrimination,” those were the sensations that smothered him.
“It’s hard because these are crimes that are difficult to prove, because the judicial process is complicated [the case lasted 12 years], and one relives his victimhood during the process. The fears are not unfounded, and I hope that this conviction is a grain of sand towards overcoming them,” he said.
In his words, there was a permanent appeal to “the collective,” like when he revealed that others who were abused (two served as witnesses) called him, satisfied with the decision of the Criminal Court. “It’s very comforting that they feel this is their own victory, because if this fight was about anything, it was the sense of representing all who passed through this psychologically damaging situation.”
For Cuattromo, the conviction of Picciochi, who will remain in captivity in Ezeiza Prison, is “a victory achieved despite the Marianista School’s attempts to silence us,” an allusion to a similar sex abuse accusation made in 1991, when the authorities kept Picciochi within the congregation. In the reparation agreement that resulted from the civil case against the Marianista School, representatives of the school included a confidentiality clause that Cuattromo finally managed to overturn with the support of the Public Defender.
“I hope this serves as an example for the defense and advancement of children’s rights, and for the broad and effective enforcement of the Law of Comprehensive Sexual Education. Moreover, let this be a message to those ‘minority sectors’ who are the antithesis of real democracy, who continue to be tied to certain cultures, practices, and mentalities with deep generational roots in the educational sphere.”