Jesuits in Chile to compensate four victims of sexual abuse by former priest

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Four victims sexually abused by former priest Jaime Guzmán Astaburuaga will be compensated with 15 million pesos each (about $21,000).

The agreement signed in the presence of a notary April 27 came following a lawsuit for compensation for damages filed Aug. 10, 2020 by four former students of Saint Ignatius School, located in the El Bosque area of metro Santiago, against the Society of Jesus and the Saint Ignatius Foundation.

The plaintiffs had requested 120 million pesos ($171,000) for each victim. However, the Chilean newspaper La Tercera reported the victims apparently withdrew that demand in a letter.

The victims, Sebastian Milos Montes, 44, a businessman; Daniel Palacios Muñoz, 44, a sociologist; Allan Pineda García-Reyes, 45, a commercial engineer; and Juan Pablo Barros Castelblanco, 45, a journalist, detailed in the lawsuit the sexual harassment they suffered from Guzmán Astaburuaga, who was then a priest and teacher from 1986 to 1992, when the victims were in grade school.

The victims were represented by Juan Pablo Hermosilla, who was also the lawyer for the three victims of Fernando Karadima, a priest convicted and dismissed from the clerical state by the Vatican in January 2011. Hermosilla was also the attorney for Marcela Aranda, a theologian and the principal accuser of the late priest and former chaplain of Hogar de Cristo, Renato Poblete Barth.

Milos stated that although the victims are satisfied that Guzmán's responsibility in the incidents has been recognized and the form of reparation has been determined, there has been a “lack of transparency and information” regarding the investigation, which he said is "a fundamental part of the closing of this stage” of the process of reparations and so “we were willing for the financial compensation to be significantly less than that contemplated in the lawsuit." 

“In the next few days we should have everything well defined and when that happens a press conference will be held by the Society of Jesus, which we hope will be an act of historical recognition, which will serve as a form of reparation to all those harmed for years,” Milos explained.

Guzmán Astaburuaga was expelled from the priesthood and the Society of Jesus after the completion of the penal administrative process for the abuse of minors carried out by the Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Arturo Sosa, at the behest of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The congregation said the process began Nov. 7 and there were 81 complainants against Guzmán.

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