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  • James Hamilton and Juan Andres Murillo, victims of clerical sexual abuse in Chile, attend a court seeking compensation in civil case in Santiago, Chile, Oct. 18, 2018.

    James Hamilton and Juan Andres Murillo, victims of clerical sexual abuse in Chile, attend a court seeking compensation in civil case in Santiago, Chile, Oct. 18, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 April 2019

The commission is expected to investigate cases of corruption in the court linked to cases against Catholic priests in sexual abuse cases.

Chile’s House of Representatives is expected to vote Tuesday on the creation of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate irregularities in the Court of Appeals of Rancagua.

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The irregularities include corruption involving influence peddling, extortion, bribery, and obstruction of justice in sexual abuse cases against priests of the Catholic Church within the country.

Three judges on the court, Emilio Elgueta, Marcelo Vasquez and Marcelo Albornoz, have so far been suspended from their duties for the various crimes that the legislator is calling to investigate.

Socialist Party member, Juan Luis Castro stressed that the investigation should be addressed from different perspectives of all involved in order to get to the truth.

He stated that the investigation will include "the judiciary, the government and the testimonies of the people affected. Especially the current government authorities that have something to do or say about this matter," Castro affirmed.

If formed, the committee could be looking into some 28 suspicious resolutions, which also include civil, labor and criminal matters apart from the sexual abuse cases.

The allegations came to light after telephone conversations were intercepted between the judges and other government officials revealing what are now the formal charges against the tribunal leaders.

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Last month, a lawyer who successfully sued the Archdiocese of Santiago said Chile’s Catholic Church ought to prepare itself for an onslaught of new civil suits from victims seeking compensation for past cases of sexual abuse.

Lawyer Juan Pablo Hermosilla said a Chilean court’s decision to force the country’s most influential archdiocese to pay his clients more than US$400,000 in damages opened the door for other “victims of abuse in church settings,” to seek financial compensation.

This was the first time Chile’s powerful Roman Catholic Church was required to pay damages related to an ongoing sex abuse scandal that last year prompted Pope Francis to apologize to the church’s community worldwide for decades of priest pedaphilia.

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