- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 21, 2010

SAO PAULO, Brazil | The detention of an 83-year-old priest in Brazil for allegedly abusing boys as young as 12 in a case involving lurid videotape and a congressional investigation has added to the scandals hitting the Roman Catholic Church in Latin America.

The charges against Monsignor Luiz Marques Barbosa — and two other Brazilian priests — have made headlines throughout the world’s most populous Catholic nation and come amid accusations of sexual abuse by priests across the world.

The scandal erupted when Brazilian television network SBT last month broadcast a tape of Monsignor Barbosa in bed with a 19-year-old that was widely distributed on the Internet.

The station said the video was secretly filmed in January 2009 and sent anonymously to the network. It was not clear if the 19-year-old, identified as a former altar boy who had worked with Monsignor Barbosa for four years, had previous sexual relations with the priest.

SBT reporters went to Monsignor Barbosa’s house and confronted him. Asked if he ever abused boys, Monsignor Barbosa said he could only answer such a question “in confession” and cut off the interview.

Brazil’s legislature launched a sex-abuse investigation, which produced charges that Monsignor Barbosa molested boys. The elderly priest was detained late Sunday.

Judge Romulo Vasconcelos told Globo TV on Monday that he requested Monsignor Barbosa’s immediate detention out of fear the priest would flee the country.

The case now goes to prosecutors, who will decide whether to file child-abuse charges.

Sen. Magno Malta, the Brazilian lawmaker leading the legislature’s probe, called Monsignor Barbosa’s detention a milestone in the fight against child abuse in Brazil.

Monsignor Barbosa’s attorney, Edson Maia, plans to seek his release from detention, citing the man’s advanced age and arguing that he has a fixed address and does not pose a flight risk, Brazil’s O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper reported Tuesday.

Congressional investigators said more than 20 witnesses were called and some testified Monsignor Barbosa and two other priests in the same northeastern archdiocese had abused boys as young as 12, plying them with money, clothes and other gifts.

Bishop Valerio Breda of the Penedo archdiocese in the northeastern state of Alagoas said recently that all three priests had been suspended and that the church was conducting its own investigation.

One of the accused priests, Edison Duarte, was given immunity for cooperating with authorities, Mr. Malta said in a statement issued by his Senate office. The third priest — Raimundo Marques — also is being investigated but denies any wrongdoing. He has not been arrested.

Church officials have not responded to calls requesting information on where Monsignor Barbosa and the other priests had worked in the past.

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