January 18, 2005
Accused tells of decades of abuse
January 18, 2005 Lisbon, Australia
A FORMER driver for a Portuguese state-run institution at the centre of a pedophile trial, which has tainted top figures, told a court today he had over the years sexually abused 22 boys under his care.
Carlos Silvino, who also stands accused of procuring minors for wealthy child molesters for more than two decades, apologised to the victims, but insisted he had remained their friends even after the abuse took place.
"Practically no one got angry with me. I am the one who got angry with myself," he told the Lisbon court after identifying each victim and specifying the offences he committed against them.
The 22 victims were between the ages of 8 and 14 when the abuse took place.
Silvino is charged with a total of 634 offences, including 598 counts of sexual abuse of minors from Casa Pia, a Lisbon-based network of 10 homes and schools, which looks after some 4000 troubled or orphaned children.
Last month he told the court he had for years delivered boys from the more than two century old institution, at their request, to several of the other six accused in the high-profile trial.
Silvino, who has told the court he was sexually abused himself while under the care of Casa Pia as a child, is the first of the seven accused to take the stand in the trial which has gripped Portugal since it began in November.
His testimony is seen as key in the case against the other accused, including television personality Carlos Cruz, whose career spans three decades, and former ambassador to South Africa Jorge Ritto.
A former director of Casa Pia, Manuel Abrantes, is also among the accused, as is a 62-year-old woman who is charged with providing her home so that the sexual encounters could take place.
Mr Abrantes, who maintains he is innocent, said Silvino's confession was "very serious".
"For this to have taken place, someone had to have closed their eyes," he told reporters as he left the courthouse for a lunch break.
The scandal began in September 2002 after the mother of a boy who attended classes at a Casa Pia school told police her son had been raped by Silvino while on a field trip.
A subsequent investigation uncovered allegations of decades of sexual abuse at the institution. More than 100 children currently at Casa Pia show signs of having been abused, social workers say.
The case has shattered public trust in the authorities, especially after reports surfaced that children had complained about being abused since the mid-1970s, including to a former Portuguese president, butt no one had acted.
Posted by Nancy at January 18, 2005 09:02 AM