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Conflicting claims of responsibility in Italian priest's abuse trial

Catholic World News - April 28, 2010

"I am not a monster. I am innocent," a prominent Italian priest told a court in Rome, where he is on trial for allegedly molesting several boys. Father Ruggero Conti, once an adviser to the mayor of Rome, said that the boys had misinterpreted his friendly gestures as sexual advances.

In court documents obtained by the Associated Press, Bishop Gino Reali acknowledged that he had heard complaints about Father Conti two years before the priest's arrest in 2006. He claimed that the complaints were not specific enough to warrant action.

The Vatican's chief prosecutor for sex-abuse cases, Msgr. Charles Scicluna, said that he had been told about the case in 2007, but the victims' group that alerted him to the problem refused to provide enough specific information to support an investigation. "Their refusal to share the information with me puts the onus on them," he charged. Msgr. Scicluna testified that he urged the group to report the case to local police.

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