Monday, December 1, 2008
First Legal Defeat for the Legionaries ಆಫ್ Christ : Judge orders the Colegio Oxford to pay damages to a child assaulted by his teacher.
By Sanjuana Martínez
Decision in child sex abuse case in Mexico.
After two years of litigation a civil court judge, Maricela Cruz Sánchez, has found the Colegio Oxford, located in Mexico City, liable for monetary damages due to the moral hazard caused to a boy who was sexually abuse at age three by his physical education teacher, Joaquín Francisco Mondragón Rebollo, who remains at-large.
"This amounts to the first successful lawsuit against the Legionaries of Christ," says attorney José Bonilla Sada in an interview with La Jornada. "With this verdict people who commit crimes involving the sexual abuse of minors within the Legion, founded by Marcial Maciel, are at last beginning to be punished."
The verdict is based on an employer/employee relationship linking the sexual perpetrator and the Centro de Educación y Cultura Ajusco, SC, controlling arm of the Colegio Oxford, whose director, María del Pilar Adelina Soto Maza, was found to be "guilty and negligent" due to the boy being sexually abused on the grounds of an educational institution operated by the Legionaries of Christ.
Judge Maricela Cruz Sánchez stated in her opinion that the school had "the moral obligation to educate, a duty to protect and care for those for whom they are responsible, given that parents place in educational institutions all the confidence that their children will develop physically, mentally and spiritually."
The 34 page document does not specify the amount of damages the legionary school must pay to the victim and his parents, but Bonilla Sada has stated no amount of money can make up for the immense harm caused to the boy and his family. "We have not even considered the amount of money. Our objective was not to get a lot of money. We never even thought about it. The important thing is that they be punished for causing moral harm, something which we have always alleged."
The verdict also states that "having committed an assault and sexual abuse against a minor, it remains manifestly clear that the responsible parties failed to do their job, and have not submitted any evidence that would justify, explain or exempt them from a failure to fulfill their obligation, and by extension their responsibility."
Bonilla Sada began the search for justice in his son's case more than two years ago. But he soon became an attorney for other victims of sexual abuse. "The verdict is a setback for the Legionaries of Christ because it exposes them to Mexican society as people who act unscrupulously in defense of criminals who commit sexual assault against minors, against those who were abused in their schools," he says.
In reference to the verdict against the director, María del Pilar Adelina Soto Maza, he stated that he felt it was a very serious matter that from the beginning she provided protection to the perpetrator rather than the victim. "It's awful that a woman of her status would be involved in these sorts of allegations. It's impossible to imagine that, instead of protecting the children at her school, she has set about to protect the perpetrating teacher and the supposed good name of the Legionaries of Christ and the Colegio Oxford. This goes against any educational principle or human virtue."
The attorney maintains that the Mondragón Rebollo, currently still at-large due to aggravated assault and sexual abuse charges, was and is still being harbored by the Legionaries of Christ. "We have shown all the evidence of the protections they have provided him. This the way the Legionaries have of blocking out the light with one hand in order to prevent the truth from coming out. But in this case they failed. Now the public knows how the Legionaries of Christ are institutionally linked to pedophilia."