Vatican City, May 12, 2021 / 13:00 pm
As the trial for alleged abuse inside a Vatican youth seminary continues, witnesses have given different views on the characters of the victim and the accused, and of the institution’s culture.
In a hearing May 12, the Vatican City State’s criminal court heard testimony from five witnesses, four of whom were students at the pre-seminary at the time the alleged abuse took place.
Located inside Vatican City State, the Pius X pre-seminary is a residence for about a dozen boys aged 12 to 18 who serve at papal Masses and other liturgies in St. Peter’s Basilica and are considering the priesthood.
The alleged victim, a 28-year-old identified only as L.G., has testified that beginning when he was 13 years old, while he was a student at the pre-seminary, he was sexually assaulted over a period of six years by a fellow student, the defendant Fr. Gabriele Martinelli.
Martinelli has defended his innocence of the charges, calling the accusations against him “unfounded” and intended to “strike” at the pre-seminary. Martinelli was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Como in 2017.
The pre-seminary’s former rector, 72-year-old Fr. Enrico Radice, is also on trial on charges of impeding investigations into the abuse allegations against Martinelli, which he denies.
In the latest hearing, which began last year, witnesses who knew both the victim and defendant at the time of the alleged abuse testified to not having directly witnessed any abuse, even though several had at times, for periods of up to two years, shared a room with L.G.
One witness, Andrea Garzola, claimed that Martinelli once strongly touched his genitals when a game they were playing devolved into a fight. But he said that he did not think it was a “sexual advance.”