A deaf and mute victim of the historic sex abuse inside the Catholic church has spoken of how he and his friends were taught secret signs for oral sex and sodomy at a learning institute in Italy.
The victim, identified only as ‘Giuseppe’, told The Daily Beast how the priests and monks at the Antonio Provolo Institute in Verona had started teaching him a string of sickening signs for things such as masturbation, fellatio, penis, and anus, when he was just 11 years old.
The signs were designed to be incomprehensible to others, even those who could understand sign language, making it impossible for the children to accurately explain what was happening to them to their parents or the authorities.
A deaf and mute victim of sexual abuse inside a Catholic learning facility has spoken about the abuse he experienced there. The secret signs which he came to understand as commands for sexual acts could not be translated, rendering them incomprehensible to outsiders (file image)
Consequently, it took years before anyone could understand what he was trying to say, and even longer before he was actually believed.
Giuseppe is one of 67 young boys named in court documents and detailing the alleged abuse at the Provolo Institute carried out by more than two dozen priests and brothers.
Verona prosecutors are planning to bring the case to trial in the coming months, having spent almost a decade investigating the allegations, The Daily Beast reported.
Pope Francis leading the Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican on September 26
‘I didn’t understand at first just why this man was teaching me these strange secret signs,’ Giuseppe said.
‘Then one day it became very clear when one of the priests made the secret sign for fellatio when we were alone, which was followed by him pushing his erect penis into my mouth.’
Speaking through an interpreter, Giuseppe explained that when he and his friends were given a sign by the priests, they knew they were about to be taken to special rooms, ostensibly for ‘time out’ punishments or to rest.
The priests and brothers had no fear of being caught, he said, because everyone at the school was deaf and unable to hear the victims’ screaming.
Giuseppe also told The Daily Beast website that some of the boys tried to put the abuse into writing, but because they had to give external letters to their abusers to be mailed out, it is likely that their evidence was intercepted.
‘Of course we screamed and cried,’ he said.
‘Sometimes you would see priests coming into the dormitory at night, or you would see friends with tears rolling down their faces and you knew exactly what had just happened.
You didn’t need to hear to know.’
Giuseppe said his abuse lasted for seven years, only ending when he left the institute at age 18.
Even when the allegations came to light, cover-ups and manoeuvring began to protect the priests.
When allegations of abuse at the Provolo Institute first emerged in the mid-1980s, Father Nicola Corradi, now 83, was named as one of the perpetrators.
Antonio Provolo Institute for hearing impaired children in Lujan de Cuyo, in Argentina’s Mendoza province, where at least 20 children say they were abused by priest Nicola Corradi, who was arrested in 2016
Rather than defrock him or turn him over to the police, the Bishop transferred him to the sister institution – The Provolo Institute in Mendoza, Argentina – where he was able to carry out further acts of systematic abuse.
He was arrested in 2016 over allegations relating to the abuse of 22 deaf and mute children, spanning three decades.
There are currently at least 60 civil trials taking place in Argentina against priests like Corradi.
The decades-old and intercontinental scandal of sex abuse in the Catholic church has showed no signs of slowing down.
In mid-September, two leading German media outlets reported that a study on sexual abuse inside the Catholic Church in Germany found that 3,677 people were abused by clergy between 1946 and 2014.
Spiegel Online and Die Zeit said the report concludes that more than half of the victims were 13 or younger and most were boys.
Every sixth case involved rape and at least 1,670 clergy were involved. Die Zeit wrote that 969 abuse victims were altar boys.
The damning scandal has caused many within the church to call for a a shakeup of the system which fostered a culture of unchecked abuse for decades.
The German Catholic Church vowed to take a thorough look at its practices including the issue of celibacy.
A Vatican cardinal slammed Pope Francis as ‘ice-cold, cunning Machiavellian’ and a ‘liar’ in an interview with German weekly paper Der Spiegel about the Catholic church child sex abuse scandal
And, just 48 hours ago, Pope Francis defrocked a Chilean priest, in a decision the Vatican has said ‘is for the good of the church’.
Francis invoked his ‘supreme’ authority to stiffen a sentence originally handed down by a Vatican court in 2011.
In a statement Friday, the Vatican said Francis had laicized 88-year-old Rev. Fernando Karadima, who was originally sanctioned to live a lifetime of ‘penance and prayer’ for having sexually abused minors in his Santiago parish.
The ‘penance and prayer’ sanction has been the Vatican’s punishment of choice for elderly priests convicted of raping and molesting children, but it has long been criticised by victims as being too soft and essentially an all-expenses-paid retirement.
Authorities in Argentina have also carried out raids at the Antonio Provolo Institute in La Plata, Argentina (pictured)
During a visit to Ireland in August, Pope Francis spoke of his ‘pain and shame’ at the ‘grave scandal’ of clerical sex abuse in the Catholic Church amid protests over the scandal.
The pontiff said victims had a right to be outraged at the ‘repellent crimes’ against young people. For the victims, though, this isn’t enough.
‘They offer prayers and apologies and even money,’ Giuseppe told The Daily Beast website.
‘But they can’t give us back our innocence. They can’t undo these terrible things.’