Chile: Irish priest gets probation for sex abuse

AP News
Posted: Nov 11, 2014 5:04 PM

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — An Irish-born Chilean priest convicted of sexually abusing a minor while chaplain at a school in Santiago was sentenced to four years of probation Tuesday.

A court in the Chilean capital also banned the Rev. John O'Reilly from any job near children and ordered that his genetic data be added to a registry for abusers.

O'Reilly, who has denied any wrongdoing, was not present during the sentencing. Prosecutors had asked for a 10-year prison sentence.

The court found O'Reilly guilty last month, saying he abused a young girl while he was the spiritual guide at the Cumbres school in the affluent neighborhood of Las Condes.

Relatives had accused the priest of molesting two pre-teen girls between 2010 and 2012. The court absolved him in one case.

O'Reilly arrived in Chile in the mid-1980s and was granted Chilean citizenship in 2008. He is a member of the Legion of Christ, the once-respected conservative order that fell into scandal after it was revealed that its founder had fathered a child and had sexually abused seminarians.

As in other countries, the Roman Catholic Church has been rocked by a series of scandals in Chile.

The Vatican defrocked Chilean priests Daniel Pauvif Rojas and Casiano Roja earlier this year for sex abuse of adults and at least one minor. It also accepted the 2012 resignation of Marco Antonio Ordenes, a Chilean bishop who is under investigation by the Vatican for allegations he sexually abused a minor.

In 2010, four men alleged they were abused as teenagers by the Rev. Fernando Karadima, one of Chile's most revered priests. The Vatican sanctioned Karadima by ordering him to a life of "penitence and prayer." A Chilean judge later dismissed a criminal case because the statute of limitations had expired, but she concluded the abuse allegations were truthful.