Brazilian bishop accused of cover-up as police investigate new abuse allegations

SÃO PAULO, Brazil - Police in Brazil are investigating three Catholic priests accused of abusing several altar boys and seminarians. The former bishop of their diocese, who resigned in May, is also under investigation for having allegedly extorted money from them in exchange for his silence.

The lawyer of a group of victims said last week he intends to file lawsuits against the Catholic Church, seeking $530,000 in damages for each person.

The scandal in the Diocese of Limeira, in the State of São Paulo, was last week’s cover story in Revista Veja, a major weekly magazine, prompting the opening of new investigations. The Brazilian press has been covering the accusations against Father Pedro Leandro Ricardo, from the city of Americana, since January, when the police opened investigations against him for cases of sexual abuse and he was suspended from his parish.

In May, Bishop Vilson Dias de Oliveira of Limeira resigned after the police and press reports said the Vatican started investigating him for extortion, unjust enrichment and abuse cover-up. But Veja’s story, published on July 12, was the first to disclose details of Ricardo’s crimes and also revealed the alleged crimes of two other priests from the diocese of Limeira, Father Felipe Negro and Father Carlos Alberto da Rocha.

In the story, Ricardo was accused by six former altar boys and seminarians - all of them minors at the time of the alleged events - of having inappropriately touched them before or after Masses. The testimony includes graphic descriptions.

A former altar boy, Ednan Vieira, 35, told the magazine that he was 17 when Ricardo asked him to sleep at the parish house because he would celebrate a Mass the next morning. Vieira claims the priest gave him wine and, wearing only boxer shorts, started to masturbate in front of him and then asked him to perform oral sex. Vieira resisted the priest’s advances and was later dismissed from his role as an altar boy.

One of Ricardo’s other alleg...

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