Francisco Segovia, Pablo Vio and Gonzalo Elizondo denounced the school for sexual abuse (Télam)
In July 2022, two former students of the Colegio del Salvador publicly denounced the abuses they had suffered in 2002 by César Fretes, a tutor at the establishment. After these statements in the media, other victims joined and currently there are more than 40 people who claim to have been abused by the religious, who died in 2015.
The case led some ten former students to file a criminal complaint against the authorities of the Colegio del Salvador and the Compañía de Jesús, considering them necessary participants in the crimes of sexual abuse, corruption of minors and aggravated cover-up.
This Friday the search of the Jesuit college was carried out in the former rector of the institution in the denounced period, and his deputy, Miguel) with the aim of kidnapping documentation related to the case, in which Alfredo Godoy, a charge of the Criminal and Correctional Court No. 59 and the prosecutor Santiago Vismara.
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In this way, the lawyers Pablo and César Mayer denounced Rafael Velasco, former rector of the institution in the denounced period, and his deputy, Ricardo Moscato, among other authorities.
“Throughout his years as a tutor, as well as a companion in spiritual retreats and camps, Fretes sexually abused at least 42 students of the institution, who – at the time of the events – were between 10 and 12 years old,” indicates the complaint to which Infobae had access.
Pablo Mayer explained that “between 2000 and 2003, Fretes was the tutor of the sixth grade students. He had been designated so that the students adapt to the new school step: the secondary ”.
“The curious thing is that, in 1999, Velasco had already received complaints from the parents of three abused students. If they had done something about it, more than 40 abused would have been avoided, ”considered the lawyer in dialogue with this medium.
And he continued: “On the contrary, the rector and his vice allowed Fretes to remove the students from the classroom to take them to his office, which had the glass doors covered with cardboard. Didn’t that detail ever catch your attention? “We believe that without their collaboration this would not have happened,” he said.
The lawyers also blame them for having “expressly authorized the participation of Fretes as a tutor and companion of the students in camps and the spiritual retreats of the College.” According to the accusation, Fretes managed to “enter the students’ tents when they were sleeping, with the purpose of sexually abusing them.”
At the same time, the judicial presentation points out that the religious office “was in a strategic place, at the end of the corridor on the third floor, so that only those who went to said office would pass through the place, otherwise it would not serve as a passage for other side. In turn, in that same corridor the three sixth grade classrooms were located, only those”.
“It is important to note that, in order for him to remove students from the classroom during the class hours of other teachers, occasions on which he carried out his abuses, he necessarily had the knowledge and express authorization of Velasco and Moscato, or at least with their consent. repeated tolerance,” they remarked.
After the raids, Gonzalo Elizondo, one of Fretes’s victims, wrote a letter entitled “What does the raid leave the Colegio del Salvador for us”, in which he questioned the attitude of the authorities of the College where the abuses occurred.
Elizondo believes that “there is information that they are not providing to Justice.” At the same time, he points out that the religious was not expelled, but that he “resigned freely” and that the school “helped him financially for months until he could” reintegrate “into society.”
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It also ensures that those responsible for the establishment “not only did not denounce him or investigate him or expel him, but they gave him financial support to rebuild his life, while they left us, the victims, living with our pain in silence.”
The full letter:
Last Friday, the justice system carried out a simultaneous search of the Colegio del Salvador (CABA) and the Loyola Center (Colegio Máximo, San Miguel). The objective was to find all the information available about the Jesuit César Fretes, within the framework of the criminal complaint that we recently filed in court. Fretes worked at the Colegio del Salvador between 1995 and 2003, where he sexually abused more than 40 children.
The news of the raid left us much to reflect on. In the first place, it showed concrete actions on the part of justice, and the determination to clarify the facts that we denounce.
Secondly, it once again reflected the lies and manipulations by the Colegio del Salvador and the Company of Jesus. The statement published by the institution -written in a hurry and without a date, after the news appeared in the media- gives an account of this.
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There they explain that the next business day of the raid they provided “more information than that existing in the educational venues, since it was in the Curial Headquarters where no raid was ordered.” What they forget to say is that the Curial Headquarters works exactly in the same building as the Colegio del Salvador. Rather than provide the information directly, it appears they waited until the weekend passed to determine what information to provide to justice.
Without going any further, among the documentation presented, I was struck by the absence of my own statement in front of the Jesuit Álvaro Pacheco, who in a letter I received in December 2019 assured me that “your complaint is registered.” That record, which would keep my name confidential, does not appear. This allows me to suspect that there is still information that they are not bringing to justice.
On the other hand, in said communiqué they once again lie when they say that it was not until 2003 that they found out about Fretes’ abuses. Several testimonies – present in the file – confirmed that the College knew about these abuses at least since 1998. It is surprising that in the middle of a judicial process they have the audacity to blatantly lie to the educational community.
They also lie when they say that “in those years” they did not have the obligation to file a complaint before the courts. Since 1994, the Convention on the Rights of Children and Adolescents has constitutional status in Argentina. In turn, Law 114 of the City of Buenos Aires, enacted in 1999, establishes in article 39 that “any person who becomes aware of the existence of physical, mental, sexual abuse, negligent treatment, mistreatment or exploitation of children and adolescents must immediately report it to the competent bodies”.
All the information in the file shows that they did not comply with this obligation, and that they are lying when they say that they were not “authorized to denounce”, having learned in those years of more than half a dozen cases of abuse by Fretes.
Regarding the information incorporated after the raid, some aspects are striking. In various communications, the Society of Jesus stated that Fretes was transferred to Mendoza in 2003 with the “prohibition of interacting with minors.” A kind of “punishment” to prevent it from continuing to “cause damage”. What appears from the documentation is quite the opposite.
Fretes was assigned the new destination and in March 2004 he was thanked by letter for “the valuable service” he provided in his years at the Colegio del Salvador. Regarding the “prohibition of interacting with minors”, there was no control. The indifference was total, to the point that the Mendoza community had not been informed of the events that occurred in El Salvador. Fretes moved freely. The documentation states that during 2004 he attended the Padre Llorens School, in the San Martín neighborhood of Mendoza, just as he returned to the Colegio del Salvador “for a visit” that same year without anyone doing anything to stop him.
Another of the things that the Society of Jesus wanted us to believe was that Fretes was “expelled” in 2007, after an “internal investigation”. The documentation states that Fretes “freely” presents his resignation, and that even the Society of Jesus helped him financially for months until he could “reintegrate” into society. That is to say, not only did they not report him, investigate him, or expel him, but they gave him financial support to rebuild his life, while they left us, the victims, living with our pain in silence.
Lastly, I would like to point out my surprise – which has already gone through pain and disappointment – at the lack of response from Pope Francis. In the last two and a half years I have sent letters to him and his collaborators requesting his mediation. The last one was in October 2022 with the signature of 14 victims. The Pope was not only a Jesuit but even a teacher at the Colegio del Salvador, which makes his lack of response and empathy even more striking.
We know that we have a long way to go in our search for justice, but we have formed a strong human group, which has the unconditional support of family, friends and a great team of lawyers.
We will continue walking together, closing old wounds and raising our voices so that these events do not happen again.
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