When the Argentine trial opened on Monday, among those protesting outside of the court was ex-student Ezequiel Villalonga, who is now 18.
"Those of us from the Próvolo in Mendoza said: 'no more fear. We have the power'," he said, according to the Associated Press. Like many other abuse victims at the school, he is harshly critical of Pope Francis,
"Francis was very quiet about the abusive priests, but now the sentence is coming," said Villalonga. "I know that the pope is afraid because the deaf have been brave."
Advocates for the victims have called for the abusers to be dismissed from the clerical state.
The Archdiocese of Mendoza has said it didn't know the Italian priest's background when he came to Argentina. It said the priest depended on his Italian-based religious congregation for support. The archdiocese voiced "solidarity and closeness" with the alleged victims and said that in its view the responsibilities and punishments for the alleged crimes should be established.
"As part of the people of Mendoza, we desire truth and justice, and we put in the hands of God … the work of whose who have the task of imparting it," the archdiocese said in an Aug. 2 statement.
Two religious sisters who worked at the Mendoza school are accused of participating in the abuse or knowing about it, as are former directors and employees who are accused of knowing of the crimes but not taking action. In 2018 one employee was sentenced to 10 years for rape, sexual touching, and corruption of minors.
Pope Francis previously served as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He headed the Argentine bishops' conference when the alleged crimes were reported in 2009 and 2010.
In 2014, Corradi was the subject of a letter sent to Pope Francis from Italian victims of sexual abuse who were concerned about the priest's ongoing ministry, despite the accusations against him. In 2015, the group handed a list of priests accused of abuse to the Pope in person, according to the Washington Post.
The group reportedly did not hear back from Pope Francis, but did hear from a Vatican official, Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, who wrote to the group in 2016 to tell them that he had informed the Italian bishops' conference of their request for an investigation.
Later that year, Corradi, as well as Corbacho and another employee of the school, were arrested. When Argentine authorities arrested Corradi and Corbacho, the Washington Post reported, local officials said the Church in Argentina was not fully cooperative with the investigation.
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