A Roman Catholic nun from Japan has been arrested and charged on suspicion of helping priests sexually abuse children at a school for youths with hearing disabilities in Argentina.
Kosaka Kumiko, 42, was charged with helping the priests with anal and vaginal rapes, fondling and oral sex, which were allegedly committed in the bathrooms, dormitories, garden and a basement at the school in Lujan de Cuyo, a city about 620 miles northwest of Buenos Aires.
The case against Kumiko began after a former student accused her of making her wear a diaper to cover up a hemorrhage after she was allegedly raped by priest Horacio Corbacho.
‘I am innocent,’ she told judicial officials, who ordered her to be taken into custody at a local women’s prison while detectives investigate the alleged crimes.
The nun, who has Argentine citizenship, has also been charged with physically abusing the students – whose torments could only be heard by those abusing them since the other children were deaf – at the Antonio Provolo Institute for children with hearing impairment in northwestern Mendoza province.
But she denied any wrongdoing during an eight-hour court hearing late Thursday.
She was shown being led by police in handcuffs, and wearing her habit and a bullet-proof vest.
At least 24 students from the Provolo Institute have come forward to accuse Corbacho, fellow priest Nicola Corradi and three other men.
The Japanese-born nun, who has Argentine citizenship, allegedly helped the priests with anal and vaginal rapes, fondling and oral sex – which were allegedly committed in the bathrooms, dormitories, garden and a basement at the school in Lujan de Cuyo
At least 24 students from the Provolo Institute came forward to accuse Horacio Corbacho (left) and fellow priest Nicola Corradi (pictured in wheelchair)
The pair were arrested last year after they were charged with sexually abusing at least two dozen students at the Provolo Institute. Horacio Corbacho is pictured with a cross on a wall behind him
The children said the two Roman Catholic priests continuously raped them, beside the image of the Virgin Mary.
Police arrested the five accused men last November, finding a slew of pornographic magazines and about $34,000 in Corradi’s room.
‘They always said it was a game: “Let’s go play, let’s go play” and they would take us to the girls’ bathroom,’ one of the women who was abused at the Argentine school alleged.
Corradi and Corbacho were arrested last year after they were charged with sexually abusing at least two dozen students at the Provolo Institute.
The nun denied any wrongdoing during an eight-hour court hearing late Thursday
Pictured is the Provolo Institute where the alleged incident took place. It’s located in Lujan de Cuyo, a city about 620 miles northwest of Buenos Aires
They are being held at a jail in Mendoza and have not spoken publicly since their arrest.
If found guilty, the accused face up to 50 years in prison. Corradi had earlier been accused in Italy of abusing students at the Provolo Institute in Verona, a notorious school for the deaf where hundreds of children are believed to have been sexually assaulted over the years by two dozen priests and religious brothers.
Advocates for clerical sex abuse have expressed anger that Corradi wasn’t sanctioned by the Vatican and allegedly went on to abuse children in Pope Francis’ native Argentina.
Three school employees, Jorge Bordon, Jose Luis Ojeda and Armando Gomez, were also arrested and remain in custody.
Investigators are looking into more than 30 testimonies against the priests and teaching staff.
TIMELINE OF ALLEGED ABUSE OF ‘HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN’ AT THE PROVOLO INSTITUTE
2009: Abuse at the Provolo Institute – which also has a branch in Italy – was first brought to light. Several students came forward and named and accused priests, including Corradi, who has been names again for abusing children in the Argentine Branch of the institute
2010: Vatican ordered its northern Italy branch – the Verona diocese – to investigate the claims
2012: the Vatican apologized and sent the results of the investigation to the victims. Four of the accused priests were sanctioned while a fifth was exempted because he had Alzheimers. The priests who were sanctioned were ordered to live a life of prayer and penance and were under supervision, away from children, the Associated Press reported in 2016
2014: The students penned a letter, naming Corradi – who was now in the Pope’s native Argentina – but they received no response
2016: According to the Associated Press, a Vatican official said Pope Francis wanted to assure the victims that the church was taking steps to tackle the continuous sexual abuse. In December 2016, he used sign language while delivering his Christmas message, which fell on deaf years in Argentina as the controversy was unfolding