Things That Matter

Deaf Students At A Catholic School In Argentina Are Telling Their Story Of Abuse And Neglect By Priests

Justice may soon be on the horizon for as many as 20 victims who say they were sexually abused, including cases of rape, between 2004 and 2016. Priests Nicola Corradi, 83, Horacio Corbacho, 59 and a former gardener Armando Gomez, 49, are all facing charges of sexually abusing deaf children in their care. The shocking case has sent shock waves through Argentina’s society and the Catholic church. The terrible acts occurred at the Provolo Institute in Mendoza, a Catholic school for deaf children that was founded in 1995 and in which Corradi headed until his arrest in November 2016.

People in Argentina are looking for answers and are asking how this horrendous crime could have happened?

Credit: @revistasemana / Twitter

The two priests and gardener appeared in court Monday to face their long-awaited charges of sexual abuse. The three men face prison sentences of up to 20 years in some cases, up to 50 years in others. The trial, which is expected to last two months, will hear testimony from 13 victims who suffered negligence and abuse between the ages of four and 17, relating to 43 offenses.

News of the abuse at the school broke at the end of 2016 and created a huge scandal. The scandal grew when it became clear that Rev. Corradi was behind the charges. It has been reported that Corradi was accused of similar allegations at the Antonio Próvolo institute in Verona, Italy. Pope Francis, an Argentine, has since been notified that Corradi was behind both allegations but has yet to comment publicly despite on the matter despite his close affiliation. 

There has already been one sentencing in wake of the scandal. Jorge Bordón, an institute employee, was sentenced to 10 years in prison last year on charges of rape, sexual touching, and corrupting minors.

One of the victims has spoken up about his emotions going into the trial and his search for justice. 

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Ezequiel Villalonga,18, is one of the victims of the pedophile priests, says that he was preyed upon at the school as a minor. Villalonga is deaf which makes the case even more heartbreaking. Now, he’s getting the chance to tell his story as the trial goes to court.

“I think that everything in the Church is fake. Everything they made us read, recite, the way (they said) people should live,” Villalonga told the AP in sign language right before the start of the priests’ trial on Monday. “I think they lie and that they’re demonic.”

Villalonga was sent to the school when he was 4 years old after his mother found out her son was deaf when he was only seven months old. For many of those years at Provo, he was only allowed to go home on weekends and spent the majority of his days there inside a massive building with little to no contact. Despite the school’s specialized mission in helping deaf children, he didn’t teach him how to speak during his time there. It was until he was an adult he learned sign language. 

“Life there was terrible. We didn’t learn anything, we couldn’t speak to each other because we didn’t know sign language,” he said. “We would write without knowing what it said, and when we asked other classmates, no one understood anything.”

Things haven’t been easier for his mom, Natalia, who says her family has had to pause their lives due to the case and the horrors that have happened to her son. 

“I am super-nervous, anxious and I hope for justice; that this ends soon so my son can move on to a new stage because this is very hard,” said Natalia Villalonga told the Washington Post.

While the trial is just getting started, the trauma and disbelief for many of the young victims have gone on for too long.

Credit: @Crux / Twitter

Paola Gonzalez’s daughter, Milagros, who is now 16 years old, had been one of those 20 abused while attending the Institute. Gonzalez was shocked and angry when she found out what had happened to her daughter at what she considered at one point, a prestigious institution. 

“You should have seen her little body when she went into (the Provolo). She was so small,” Gonzalez told the AP. “I don’t understand, I can’t imagine such evil. How could they do so much harm to such a fragile creature?” 

READ: A Brazilian Gang Leader Thought He Could Use A ‘Scooby-Doo’ Tactic To Escape Prison

A Group Of Women Who Sued Harvey Weinstein For Misconduct Have Reached A Nearly $19 Million Settlement

Entertainment

A Group Of Women Who Sued Harvey Weinstein For Misconduct Have Reached A Nearly $19 Million Settlement

Spencer Platt / Getty

Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein might be in prison but his legal woes continue.

The former film producer and convicted sex offender who founded the entertainment company Miramax and was toppled by allegations of sexual assault amid the early days of the #MeToo movement is still paying big time for his depraved acts of sexual assault and harassment. This week, Weinstein was successfully sued for sexual misconduct by a group of women and reached a nearly $19 million tentative settlement.

Late Tuesday evening, New York Attorney General Leticia James announced that the settlement, which is part of a class-action lawsuit against, meant the women would also be released from confidentiality and NDA agreements.

Speaking about the suit which was filed two years ago, Caitlin Dulaney one of the plaintiffs involved described the lead up to the decision as a “long and grueling battle.”

“Harvey avoided accountability for decades, and it was a powerful moment for us to band together and demand justice,” she said in a statement. “Knowing that we will help so many women who are long overdue for relief gives me hope that this settlement will continue to empower others to speak.”

If the lawsuit is approved by bankruptcy and US district courts, the settlement will give Weinstein victims between $7,500 and $750,000 each.

The suit also accuses Harvey Weinstein’s brother Robert Weinstein who co-founded the entertainment company Miramax with him as well as and other administrators of the Weinstein company of failing to prevent predatory sexual misconduct.

According to reports, the suit says Weinstein “created a hostile work environment by repeatedly and persistently sexually harassing female employees, including frequently remarking on female employees’ physical appearances, berating female employees, and requiring female employees to perform work while he was naked or only partially dressed.”

The suit also says Weinstein made employees help him with his erectile dysfunction injection. On top of this, women employees were also often forced to engage in sex to continue working for him or advance their careers. Some were even made to clean up for him after he had sex.

In 2017, The New York Times reported the first allegations of misconduct against Weinstein which ultimately helped spark the #MeToo movement. As a result, dozens upon dozens of women came forward to accuse Weinstein of rape and harassment.

The announcement comes three months after Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for raping Jessica Mann.

He was also charged with engaging in a criminal sexual act against Mimi Haley. Currently, he is being held in prison at the Wende Correctional Facility in Buffalo, New York.

Still, not everyone involved thinks the settlement is enough. Attorneys for six other women who have sued Weinstein for misconduct have called it a “complete sellout.” They also underlined that the settlement does not hold Weinstein accountable.

Speaking about the decision, Douglas Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer, two lawyers in a case against Weinstein said in a statement that they “are surprised that the Attorney General could somehow boast about a proposal that fails on so many different levels. While we do not begrudge any survivor who truly wants to participate in this deal, as we understand the proposed agreement, it is deeply unfair for many reasons. We are completely astounded that the Attorney General is taking a victory lap for this unfair and inequitable proposal, and on behalf of our clients, we will be vigorously objecting in court.”

Military Members Are Sharing Stories Of Sexual Assult In The Military Using #IAmVanessaGuillen

Things That Matter

Military Members Are Sharing Stories Of Sexual Assult In The Military Using #IAmVanessaGuillen

David Dee Delgado / Getty Images

Vanessa Guillen went missing on April 22 from a parking lot at Fort Hood. Before going missing, Guillen confided in her family about alleged sexual assault and harassment she faced at the U.S. Army base. Her story sparked an online movement to talk about sexual assault in the military.

Women are using #IAmVanessaGuillen to talk about sexual assault in the U.S. military.

It wasn’t until recently that movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp made it clear that society was done with making excuses for sexual assault. Powerful and influential men have fallen because of their behavior. The disappearance of Vanessa Guillen is shining a renewed light on sexual assault in the military.

The stories range from inappropriate behavior from superiors to rape from fellow soldiers.

Women see themselves reflected in Guillen and her story. Former military women are shedding the shame and fear of coming forward to tell their stories in a public space. The unity on social media is offering women comfort and support as they open up about the most personal thing someone can talk about.

Some of the stories are absolutely heartbreaking.

According to a report from the Defense Department, sexual assault in the U.S. military went up 3 percent between fiscal years 2018 and 2019. The department reported 7,825 reports of sexual assault on service members. However, Pentagon officials assert that the change cannot be characterized as an increase in assaults. A prevalence survey on sexual assault in the military is conducted every other year.

According to some women, the assault and harassment started quickly.

The same study found that sexual assault at the 3 military academies saw a spike of 32 percent. The figures show an increase of 117 reported sexual assaults in 2018 compared to 149 sexual assaults reported in the academies.

“Our Academies produce our future leaders. At every turn, we must drive out misconduct in place of good order and discipline. Our data last year, and the findings from this year’s report, reflect the progress we have made in some areas, and the significant work that remains,” Elizabeth Van Winkle, the executive director of the Office of Force Resiliency, said in a statement obtained by ABC News. “We will not falter in our efforts to eliminate these behaviors from our Academies and to inculcate our expectation that all who serve are treated, and treat others, with dignity and respect.”

Some men have also used the hashtag to share their own experiences.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 1 out of every 10 rape victims is male. The study also shows that 1 out of every 33 men will experience an attempted or completed sexual assault.

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone, you can call 1 (800) 656-HOPE (4673) or visit RAINN by clicking here.

READ: Partial Human Remains Found Near Fort Hood During Search For Vanessa Guillen