Following an extensive investigation that culminated in a series of raids of Roman Catholic Church offices in two different Chilean cities, police have finally made an arrest in an ongoing sex abuse scandal. Prosecutor Emiliano Arias led one of the raids in Santiago and said, "In Chile, we are all subject to common justice." The archbishop of Santiago Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati said church officials "gave the prosecutor all the requested documentation" and said they are "available to cooperate with the civilian justice system in all that is required."
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The arrest was made after allegations of sexual abuse emerged from within Chile’s Catholic Church which is also accused of "grave negligence" and covering up its handling of sex abuse accusations. Chilean police arrested Oscar Muñoz who served as chancellor of the Archdiocese of Santiago. Muñoz confessed in January to church officials that he sexually abused at least five children. Prosecutor Arias' raids reaped enough evidence to finally charge the pedophile, Muñoz.
"The crimes he is accused of are of repeated sexual abuse and one case of a consenting relationship with an older minor," Arias said. "There are more than five victims. I hope this investigation will allow me to find more victims because they deserve proper treatment." Chile’s Catholic Church has been able to elude prosecution thus far due to a statute of limitations, but Arias was adamant they would not apply to the charges against Muñoz.
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Police seized more evidence from the Santiago archbishop’s offices and the church’s ecclesiastical tribunal Thursday which could be indicative that more charges could follow. Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati said of Muñoz that he felt "great pain, for him, for his family and for the victims." Ezzati reaffirmed the church's cooperation saying, "The Santiago Archbishopric reiterates its willingness to collaborate with the authorities in any way required."
The sex abuse of children is so rampant in the Catholic churches of Chile that in May the Pope summoned 34 bishops to Rome where they were forced to tender their resignation for their roles in the sex abuse scandal. An additional five bishops and church officials have also tendered their resignation since then.
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