SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — The Marist Brothers in Chile say a brother who worked at two of the order's schools abused at least 14 minors from the 1970s until 2000, according to a document obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.
A statement by the Marists to parents and teachers said the order has begun legal action against Abel Perez, and its leaders have met with victims and will donate money to a non-government group that protects children.
Perez acknowledged the abuse to his superiors in 2010 and was later transferred to Peru, the order said this week. But the order was advised at the time not to disclose the abuse until victims came forward, Brother Mariano Varona said.
Asked by local media about Perez's future, Varona said he would remain a member of the order despite the abuse, even if he is convicted and imprisoned.
"You have to have mercy and also worry about the abuser," Varona told CNN Chile this week. "Abel Perez is a person. He has all our respect despite of what he's done."
Perez worked at the Instituto Alonso de Ercilla and the Marcelino Champagnat schools in Chile.
In the Aug. 8 statement to parents and teachers, the Marists said "we can assure you that we have taken all the necessary efforts so that it doesn't happen again."
"These acts cannot be repeated ever again in our community," it read.
The AP was unable to locate Perez, and Varona declined to comment.
Officials at the Prosecutor's Office for Santiago's Southern Metropolitan Area told the AP that the case would be investigated by prosecutors dealing with sex crimes and domestic violence.
Earlier this month, the general director of an elite school founded by the Marist Brothers in neighboring Argentina admitted he sexually abused a student 38 years ago.