“I had a friendship with L.G., it seems hard to me to think that he lied to me,” M.B. said.
M.B. testified that L.G. did not seem afraid of Martinelli and that there was conversation between the two of them.
Thomas Compagnoni, who was several years younger than L.G., said that the alleged victim had strongly encouraged him to attend the pre-seminary and that during his time there, he had never heard of any kind of abuse.
Fr. Francesco Vicini, a former student at the pre-seminary and now its vice-rector, was the fifth witness at the hearing.
He said that he shared a room with L.G. and Martinelli for a year, and for two years in total with L.G.
Vicini claimed that L.G. and Martinelli “fought about everything, L.G. was absolutely not afraid of Martinelli, he was not one to remain silent if he did not agree about something he would make himself heard.”
“I take it for granted that Martinelli did nothing, it seems obvious to me that he never needed to ask for clarification on rumors that were circulating in the pre-seminary,” Vicini said.
In pre-trial testimony given in 2018, Vicini had also claimed that L.G. was calm when he started at the youth seminary but that his demeanor changed as the years progressed.
“He had shown great jealousy towards Martinelli, for the role that Gabriele [Martinelli] held,” he said.
“Martinelli has a dominant character, but I respect him,” Vicini added at the time.
At a hearing in February, three different former students of the Pius X pre-seminary had testified that there was an unhealthy culture of ridicule and abuse of power while they were there.
(Story continues below)
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The witnesses also alleged that reports of sexual abuse were ignored or dismissed by authority figures, including the cardinal in charge of St. Peter’s Basilica at the time, Cardinal Angelo Comastri.
At the February hearing, the Pius X pre-seminary was described by the former students as an environment with “psychological pressures,” where it was common to hear “homosexual jokes” and other lewd comments. Martinelli was described as having a “dominant role, very strong,” and a “homosexual demeanor.”
L.G. was described by one witness as “extremely credible,” but a bit delicate because of a difficult family situation.
One witness testified that Martinelli and L.G. seemed to hate each other and never speak, but that Martinelli also gave L.G. and another student special favors, positing that Martinelli was motivated by fear of what they could reveal about him.
The pre-seminary is run by a religious group, the Opera Don Folci, which is overseen by the Diocese of Como in northern Italy.
The next hearing of the abuse trial, which will include testimony from five more witnesses, will take place on June 7.