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Top Chilean Priest Arrested for Sexually Abusing 7 Children


Months after it was revealed that Chile's Roman Catholic church was embroiled in a culture of abuse and coverups spanning decades, authorities have arrested a top priest for sexually abusing minors.

Oscar Munoz Toledo, once a prominient member of Santiago's archdiocese, was taken into custody Thursday.

"The crimes he is accused of are of repeated sexual abuse and one case of a consenting relationship with an older minor," Chilean prosecutor Emiliano Arias told reporters.

Toledo is among 14 other suspected priests accused of sexually abusing children. Police have charged Munoz with the abuse and statutory rape of seven minors.

"The crimes are for repeated sexual abuse and one case of statutory rape of a minor which constitutes the circumstance of the violation," Arias said.

The father of one of Munoz's alleged victims told investigators earlier this year that his son was underage when he suffered "a couple of inappropriate touches, caresses. There was never sex, but there were provocations or insinuations that it should happen."

Shortly after Munoz's arrest, the archbishop of Santiago told reporters that he felt "great pain, for him, for his family and for the victims."

"The Santiago Archbisopric (the office of an archbishop) reiterates its willingness to collaborate with the authorities in any way required," said Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati.

The 56-year-old Munoz is the first priest to be arrested following an investigation ordered by Pope Francis into the handling of sex abuse allegations within the Catholic Church.

In May, all 34 of Chile's Roman Catholic bishops offered the Vatican their resignitaion after it was revealed that church authorities failed to investigate complaints of abuse, actively sought to destroy evidence and covered up for abusive priests.

So far Pope Francis has accepted the resignations of five bishops.


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