A former Vatican altar testified that an elderly seminarian would enter his bed at night to perform a sexual act on him at the Vatican Youth Seminary
ROME – A former Vatican altar witness testified that an elderly seminarian would enter his bed at night to have sex with him at the Vatican Youth Seminary, saying his initial shock gave way to resignation for fear he would be sent home.
The LG indictment first testified in the Vatican’s criminal court on Wednesday, in the first case to go to trial for sexual abuse within the Vatican walls – among altar boys serving papal masses in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Reverend Gabriele Martinelli has been accused of abusing the authority of senior seminarians to force LG to “bodily acts” of sodomy and masturbation, using violence and threats, from 2007 to 2012. Former rector of the seminary, Rev. Enrico Radice is accused of helping Martinelli avoid investigators by discrediting LG’s allegations as unfounded.
Martinelli denied harassing LG, saying the allegations were unfounded, unbelievable and the fruit of “jealousy” because he was eventually ordained a priest. Radice denied knowing anything about the abuse or obstruction of the investigation.
In the seminary of St. Pius X, in a palace inside the Vatican Gardens, houses boys aged 12 to 18 who serve as altars at papal masses. The scandal erupted in 2017 when former altar boys went public with accusations of Martinelli’s misconduct and covering up superiors at the seminary.
In previous hearings, former seminarians described a toxic, homophobic atmosphere in the closed world of the seminary, where some boys were abused and superior priests did nothing to protect them.
During a three-hour testimony on Wednesday, LG said Martinelli began harassing him months after he arrived at the seminary in 2006 as a 13-year-old from a small town in northern Italy. He testified that it was his first sexual experience and that it was a “shock” he did not understand and who felt “paralyzed”.
“Martinelli would crawl into my bed at night,” he testified. “It was a very strange thing for me: I was young and I never entered the world of sexuality. I have never heard of sex at home or in my hometown. I felt confused, I didn’t understand what was going on. “
He said he eventually resigned to Martinelli and felt separated from his body when he was touched by Martinelli, who was seven months older and a senior seminarian. He said he tried to bang on walls or drawers to get him to leave, and that his roommates either overslept the commotion or pretended to.
He testified that he told Rector Radice in 2009 that Martinelli was bothering him, but admitted he did not give details. He said Radice told him he was just jealous and warned him to stop or he would tell his parents and pastor and send him home.
“As a 30-year-old, I feel guilty for not being clearer,” LG said.
After leaving the seminary, he sought out Bishop Como, who is in charge of the youth seminary, and provided more information. But he said he never received a response to his request for funding to pay for therapy.
The trial was due to continue with a visit to the seminary on Thursday, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, judges said they would be content with the photos.