Mexico City – A Mexican judge on Tuesday sentenced a Catholic priest to 63 years in prison for sexually abusing a boy between 1994 and 1998, the victim and his lawyer said.
Carlos Lopez Valdes, 72, was also ordered to pay 4 000 dollars in damages to Jesus Romero Colin.
Lopez was found guilty of abusing Romero while he was between 11 and 16 years old. The boy was assisting the priest at a Mexico City church.
Romero’s lawyer David Pena described the case as a “watershed” for being the first guilty verdict of a Catholic priest in a sex abuse case in Mexico City, one of the world’s largest Catholic dioceses, though there have been guilty verdicts elsewhere in the country.
Romero said he had reported Lopez for abuse already a decade ago, but both church and civilian authorities tried to shelve the case while the priest continued celebrating Mass.
Church authorities “argued that I wanted money, that I was lying, that I wanted to attack the church,” Romero said.
Lopez was detained in 2016, three years after Romero received a letter of apology from Pope Francis.
“We need to wage another battle” to make the church face the responsibility for the cover-up, said Romero, who is a psychologist by profession.
The archdiocese of Mexico City said: “We deeply deplore what happened.”
“These terrible behaviours make us feel pain and shame,” the statement added, pledging “zero tolerance” of child abuse.
Pena said he would appeal the sentence to increase the amount of damages, and that he was also considering suing the church.