Vatican court hears graphic description of sexual abuse

Vatican court hears graphic description of sexual assault as two priests go on trial over the rape and abuse of an altar boy

  • Gabriele Martinelli, 28, has been charged with raping and abusing an altar boy
  • Enrico Radice, 72, allegedly helped covered up the abuse in Pius X Pre-Seminary
  • The abuse took place between 2007 and 2012 in the Vatican City, Rome, Italy 

A Vatican court heard graphic descriptions of the rape sexual abuse of an altar boy as two priests went on trial today.

Father Gabriele Martinelli, 28, was charged with repeatedly raping the boy in a youth seminary, while still a minor himself, and Father Enrico Radice, 72 was charged with covering up the attacks.

The first hearing lasted only eight minutes as charges were read to the defendants today.

It was first time the Vatican had publicly detailed its case against the two men.

A Vatican court heard graphic descriptions of the rape sexual abuse of an altar boy as Father Gabriele Martinelli, 28, and Father Enrico Radice, 72, went on trial today

Neither of the two defendants has responded publicly to the accusations and the defence has not yet entered a formal plea.

The abuse took place between 2007 and 2012 in the Pius X Pre-Seminary, which houses altar boys who serve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, sometimes for the pope, and are thinking of becoming priests.

Martinelli later went on to become a priest and the prosecution says Radice did not block the ordination even though he knew about the abuse.

A clerk read out charges including how Martinelli allegedly forced a boy known by his initials LG ‘to undergo carnal acts, acts of sodomy, masturbation on himself and on the boy, at different times and in different places inside Vatican City’.

The charges read aloud in the courtroom today marked the first time the Vatican had publicly detailed its case against the two men

The trial in the Vatican’s tiny courtroom is the first concerning abuse committed inside the city state’s walls.

The alleged abuse began when LG was 13, and Martinelli continued the abuse of LG for about a year after he turned 18, the prosecution says.

The court charged Radice with cover-up, including writing letters to Italian church officials trying to divert investigations. 

Radice had given Martinelli supervisory responsibilities over the other altar boys, the court was told.

The abuse took place between 2007 and 2012 in the Pius X Pre-Seminary, which houses altar boys who serve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, sometimes for the pope, and are thinking of becoming priests

The case exploded in 2017 when Italian journalists reported that a whistleblower who was a roommate of LG reported the abuse but was later expelled from the pre-seminary. 

A Vatican inquiry began that year and indictments were issued in 2019.

Court President Giuseppe Pignatone, a former Italian anti-mafia magistrate, gave the defence until Friday to present more documentation. 

The trial resumes on October 27. 

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