Former members of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (SCV) Catholic society have formally accused founder Luis Fernando Figari and other leaders of new crimes.
Five former members have presented sworn statements to Peru’s justice department accusing Figari along with SCV leaders Jaime Baertl, Virgilio Levaggi, Jose Ambrozic, Jose Antonio Eguren, Eduardo Regal, Oscar Tokumura and Erwin Scheuch of kidnapping, assault and criminal conspiracy.
The five members’ sworn statements will add evidence to an existing justice department investigation into sexual and physical abuse as the Catholic society founded in Peru in 1971. Their lawyer also presented the SCV’s report from an internal investigation as evidence.
“We want to incorporate our testimonies as well as those of other victims who may shed more light [on SCV], and to let it be known that Luis Figari did not act alone,” said Pedro Salinas, one of the witnesses and author of “Half monks, half soldiers,” a book about abuse at the Catholic society.
Attorney Hector Gadea, who is representing Salinas and the other four victims, told La Republica that while sex abuse committed before 2004 would not be eligible for prosecution, the crime of kidnapping has no statute of limitations under Peruvian law.
Gadea told El Comercio that if the organization is found guilty of criminal conspiracy, its legal status must be immediately dissolved according to Peruvian law.
Many of the witnesses were members of the society for over 10 years starting in their early adolescence. They say they were locked against their will in society homes and forbidden from seeing their parents. Some say they were beaten by Figari and other leaders.
“What we want is justice,” Oscar Osterling, one of the five victims, told El Comercio in denying a financial motive. “We know there are more Sodalites who are angry because their lives were ruined. We hope they come forward.”
Peru’s deeply conservative society was shocked by sexual abuse allegations against SCV last October after the publishing of “Half monks, half soldiers.” Last month superior general Alessandro Moroni said that an internal investigation had found Figari guilty of the allegations.
Figari has lived in Italy since retiring in 2007.
Officially recognized by Pope John Paul II in 1997, Sodalitium Christianae Vitae has since grown to become one of the world’s larger conservative Catholic societies with active groups in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Italy and the United States.
Presentan denuncian contra Luis Figari ante la Fiscalía (La Republica)
Sodalicio: ex miembros ampliaron denuncia penal contra Figari (El Comercio) (Peru 21)