Marists have been forced to undertake an internal investigation of child abuse in the past that already reaches 20 schools throughout Spain, from the 1950s to the 1990s. Part of the testimonies against 22 Marists and a lay person collected by EL PAÍS, which has verified the information and delivered it to the Marists. The congregation, after examining their plausibility, has begun to investigate them, as confirmed to this newspaper. The order had already been investigating four schools in Galicia since June, after publishing this newspaper complaints against 13 religious, but the accusations now extend to another 16 centers throughout the peninsula. There are at least 18 victims accounted for by this newspaper. The new episodes are located in León - there are five defendants in a single school - Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Granada, Bilbao,Erandio (Bizkaia), Artziniega (Álava), Pamplona, Toledo, Badajoz, Málaga, Murcia and Elche. Abuses during classes, in empty classrooms, in the dormitories of the boarding schools. From the basketball coach, the nurse, the tutor or the priest who prepares for communion. Professors with fame known for years, such as brother Esteban Villalba, in Bilbao and Erandio (Bizkaia), nicknamed El Pelamingas. Protests from parents and complaints from students that were useless, if only for a transfer to another center. The testimonies are from people up to 74 years old - doctors, teachers, businessmen ... - who have kept the secret all their lives. Some have not yet told their families.From the basketball coach, the nurse, the tutor or the priest who prepares for communion. Professors with fame known for years, such as brother Esteban Villalba, in Bilbao and Erandio (Bizkaia), nicknamed El Pelamingas. Protests from parents and complaints from students that were useless, if only for a transfer to another center. The testimonies are from people up to 74 years old - doctors, teachers, businessmen ... - who have kept the secret all their lives. Some have not yet told their families.From the basketball coach, the nurse, the tutor or the priest who prepares for communion. Professors with fame known for years, such as brother Esteban Villalba, in Bilbao and Erandio (Bizkaia), nicknamed El Pelamingas. Protests from parents and complaints from students that were useless, if only for a transfer to another center. The testimonies are from people up to 74 years old - doctors, teachers, businessmen ... - who have kept the secret all their lives. Some have not yet told their families.The testimonies are from people up to 74 years old - doctors, teachers, businessmen ... - who have kept the secret all their lives. Some have not yet told their families.The testimonies are from people up to 74 years old - doctors, teachers, businessmen ... - who have kept the secret all their lives. Some have not yet told their families.
In recent years, 36 cases of accused Marists had come to light, the majority in Catalonia, where the order agreed last December an unprecedented compensation in Spain of 400,000 euros with 25 families, for abuses of at least 18 brothers. The EL PAÍS investigation doubles the cases known so far and brings the total to 71, located in 29 schools (and a neighborhood center) of the 54 that the congregation owns in Spain. That is, in more than half of the centers of this order there are accusations of pedophilia. Until now, only the Jesuits had carried out a minimal internal investigation, which last January admitted 81 victims since 1927, although it did not give names or specify the place of the events. Thus, the total of known cases of abuse in the Spanish Church amounts to 353, with at least 877 victims,according to the accounting kept by EL PAÍS in the absence of official data or the Church, which continues to refuse to investigate it.
The Marists apologize to the victims and make themselves available to them through the emails that each of their four provinces has to denounce abuses, as each one will investigate the cases that correspond to it. “In the face of any type of abuse or mistreatment that may have occurred in our centers, we apologize to the victims for having failed them and not having been able to protect and care for them. Furthermore, we strongly condemn these events, which sadden us and deeply regret them, wherever they are and whenever they may be, ”says one of the statements, all with similar terms.
However, the Marists have refused to give information on the cases and the history of the accused, even some provinces do not even clarify whether they have died or not. They allege that the data protection law prevents them from doing so. Furthermore, the Catalan province affirms that it will not take measures and admits that, in reality, it has not investigated any of the cases it has known so far, despite the fact that the Marists of Catalonia have been the largest known focus of abuse cases in Spain. This province ensures that so far it has reported the cases to the authorities and that the commission it created in 2020 has only focused on listening to the victims and agreeing to compensation. However, this policy disobeys the Pope and his instructions on how to address abuses, which must always be investigated. Apart from the accompaniment of the victims,an ecclesiastical process must be opened, according to canon 1717 of the code of canon law. Canon 695 specifies it even more for religious orders. On the other hand,
motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela,
updated in 2010, orders to inform the Vatican immediately. The Catalan Marists admit that they have done none of this. Asked about this, the province only responds that "as a lay religious institute and of pontifical law we conform to what is prescribed by canon law."
The Marist provinces are Compostela (Galicia, Asturias and Castilla y León), Iberica (rest of the northern half of the peninsula, except Catalonia), Mediterránea (southern half) and L'Hermitage (Catalonia).
His e-mails to attend to the victims are: email@example.com, with firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and there is a form on the website of the Marists of Catalonia.
They specify that they will give the victims the information they want from each defendant and that they are then free to speak to the media, but the order as such will not make it public.
Consult the first database of pedophilia in the Church
EL PAÍS counts for the first time the cases of known abuses, which include sentences, journalistic investigations and public complaints that have uncovered the possible crimes of a Spanish religious.
The school where the most cases have surfaced is that of San José, in León. Five Marist Brothers are being investigated. The 69-year-old writer Luis González says that Brother Isidro abused him on two occasions in the course of 1965 to 1966. “He asked me to stay after class with the excuse of reviewing the lesson and he asked me to approach his table to read near him. Then, he began to touch me ”, he relates. Shortly after, he discovered that the religious also did the same with two of his companions. “We were not able to report at the time. We would have committed a sacrilege ”, he explains. “I have tried to write about it, but I have never managed to finish anything. It is a complicated issue, but one that has to come to light. I don't mind showing my face and telling it so that people know what happened there, ”he says.In San José, three Marists investigated for abuses in Galician schools also worked as teachers: Brother Primitivo Castellanos, Brother Agustín and Brother Miguel. León is part of the same Marist province and it was frequent that, within it, they moved from one center to another.
Juan Pérez (not his real name) also studied at that school a decade later.
He assures that between 1977 and 1983, three religious abused him: the brothers Antonio María,
, one they called Bos, and brother Onofre.
The latter, he asserts, asked him to stay after an exam: “In class, alone, he started hugging and rubbing me.
He told me that he had seen me cheat on the exam and that he wouldn't take it into account anyway.
He even tried to knock me down by tripping me ”.
Brother Onofre, who died in 2018, passed through centers of the order in Madrid, Toledo, Ourense, Brive (France), Oviedo and La Coruña.
Luis González, with his back turned to the San José de León Marist school, where he suffered abuse from a Marist brother.Javier Casares
Brother Antonio María,
, was in charge of the infirmary. There, according to Pérez's testimony, he asked the students to take off their clothes and touched them: “Whenever you went for an injury or pain, everything was focused on a massage in the area of the testicles. Even with ankle sprains or headaches. It was common
Brother Bos, who according to the order is the only one of the accused still alive in this school, was a teacher of Mathematics and Music, as well as the head of the
In class, thinking that what was happening behind his table could not be seen, he stroked his testicles and penis without lowering his pants. Also, during the exams, in exchange for caresses 'I helped' you to solve the exercises ”, says the victim. This former student also relates that Brother Juan José, nicknamed
visited the inmates' rooms with a flashlight at night. “He was caught petting an inmate. That is why he was assigned to another site ”, he says.
In León, but in another school of the order, the Champagnat boarding school, another former student, JRV, 60, witnessed the abuse of Brother José Luis in 1976, also in the common bedroom. “He was our tutor and he slept in the background. There we were 80 or 90 children. Sometimes he went out at night and had two chosen. He came to touch them, but once took them to his room. They came out crying, they got into their bunks crying. Then they told us. It was something known and one day he had an open argument with another friar, who told him: 'Never again, do you hear me, they already kicked you out of Tui for that!' But, according to his account, nothing changed. This cleric, who died in Valladolid in 2016, had studied to be ordained in Tui, and then passed through Salamanca, Villarrín de Campos (Zamora), Oviedo, A Coruña, Ourense, Lugo and Vigo.
"The Pelamingas always got into the changing rooms"
The case that has brought the most victims to light is that of Brother Esteban Villalba Astarriaga at the Fundación Jado de los Maristas school in Erandio (Bizkaia) and in El Salvador de Bilbao.
He was a teacher and coach of basketball and handball, and his nickname was El Pelamingas.
This newspaper has spoken with three former students who accuse him, but at least nine more have reported abuse on social networks.
Álvaro de la Puerta says that it happened to him during the 1977-1978 course in Bilbao: "He always went into the locker room after training."
In Erandio, JBR was 11 years old when brother Esteban crossed paths in his childhood in 1964. He was his tutor and the only teacher of all subjects in the second year of high school: “I had the immense misfortune of suffering his sexual abuse.
He would touch your penis by putting his hand under your shorts, and pressing my hand on the desk with his erect penis through the cassock.
I never talked about it with anyone, it was a very strong trauma.
For me, the most shameful thing is that the order did not react at all, its passivity in the face of facts that everyone knew.
When I left school, five years later, I was still teaching and with the same fame ”.
Marist Brother Esteban Villalba, who was a basketball coach, with one of the teams of the order's school in Bilbao in the 70s.
Villalba, who died in January 2021, passed through schools in the Biscayan municipalities of Durango and Zalla, through Burgos, Logroño, Pamplona, Valladolid, Arre (Navarra), Laredo (Cantabria) and Artziniega (Álava). Another former student from Bilbao between the late sixties and early seventies, who does not wish to be identified, assures that he suffered his touching in the cinema: “I was alone in my armchair, this character appeared and took advantage of the occasion. He threaded his arm through mine, pulled towards him and put my elbow on his penis and so he spent a long time rubbing and rubbing until he got tired or came, I don't know. But it is also that this former student points to another Marist from the school, Brother Francisco: “He was touching under his pants. He was a young, blond guy, quite sadistic when it came to whipping up the students.He would call you to his table to read and there he would begin to put his hand. I was five or six years old at that time ”.
In Madrid the Marists investigate Brother Marino. This teacher went through the Chamberí and San José del Parque schools. A former student of this second center in the eighties says that "he was a psychologist." “He would make an appointment with you in his office to see if you had relaxation problems ... And he took advantage of it. I stopped his feet and it cost me more than one displeasure. My father intervened. It was the first time that my father agreed with me in front of a teacher ”. In Pamplona, at the San Luis school, I. Miqueleiz, who is now 74 years old, remembers: “It happened to me when I was eight years old, in the academic year 1955-1956. We were 40 or 45 children in class and Brother Julián, who was our only teacher, would touch all of us, in front of everyone, during classes, he would walk past the desks, bent over and put his hand through your shorts, I touched your genitals. I changed from there,I got A's and license plates and I started failing ”. In Toledo, the order was already investigating, due to the complaint of a victim, another case of abuse allegedly committed by Brother Javier between 1974 and 1977. This person also contributed his story to this newspaper, but after informing the Marists he expressed his wish that his testimony will not be published.
The Iberian Marist province, which is investigating the previous cases (Erandio, Bilbao, Madrid, Pamplona and Toledo) refuses to clarify what has happened to the accused religious. It only indicates that two have died (Villalba is one of them), two have been separated (one is Brother Marino, according to the data in this newspaper) and one left the order, but it does not clarify who. He assures that, except in the case of Toledo, he had no record of any of them so far.
In the cases of the Mediterranean Marist province, which are detailed below, the congregation has refused to even clarify whether the accused are still alive or not and, if so, what measures it has taken. One of the oldest cases is from 1961, in the junior college of the order in Artziniega, Álava, a boarding school where students were preparing to be ordained Marists. Another brother named Francisco is accused, who is not the same one named in Bilbao. A former student relates: “I was 10 years old, I came from Madrid. There was a bedroom and some were peeing on the bed. With that excuse they called us, I was the last and this brother was waiting for me at the door, he would take me to a room called the wardrobe. And the caresses, the hugs, the touching began, one night and another night, a year. And these people the next day received communion! It has screwed me up a lot.It's like it's stained, only a friend knows, I haven't even told my wife. Then I followed the formation to be a Marist, in Villalba, Sigüenza, I had the cassock and made my first vows when I was 15 years old, which was temporary profession, but after four months I left it. They left me alone on the Sigüenza train with 50 pesetas, I arrived in Atocha and appeared at home ”.
Xavier Mas-Masiá, at the entrance to the Marist College of Valencia, where he denounces having suffered abuse.Mònica Torres
There are cases in which people do not remember the name of the person who abused them, such as Francesc Xavier Mas-Masiá Sierra. It has been erased from his memory. He studied at the Marist school in Valencia and recounted what happened to him in 1972, when he was nine years old: “There was a brother who was preparing us for communion and he told you: stay later when you left, and you were alone with him in an empty class. With me he masturbated pressing me against him. My bewilderment was total. I remember the image of five or six of us commenting on it in the courtyard, many of our class suffered abuse. Now I am 57 years old and I see that all my life I have hidden the facts and the effect they have had on my development ”. Some of his classmates said it at home and then this teacher suddenly disappeared from school.“I told my mother and she told me not to tell my father, that if she didn't, she would kill him. And silence was established ”. Mas-Masiá wrote to EL PAÍS shocked by the news about the abuses in Galicia, seeing himself reflected. Then he wrote to the email of the school's alumni association, available on the centre's website, but more than a month later he has not received a reply.
At the same school in Valencia, but in the sixties, another former student accuses brother Félix, his mathematics teacher in the fifth year of high school: “Violent to the point of sadism and groping.
I sat on his legs while he caressed me and kissed me on the mouth with a foul breath of black tobacco, Ducados, to be exact, and that was in a little room where he took you to talk about your life.
According to him, I needed affection since my parents had separated.
It was doubly traumatic.
Brother Felix knew how to choose his victims.
He ended up transferred to Africa ”.
"A father went to school with a knife to kill him"
Javier Jiménez, 54, studied at the Marist school in Badajoz and still remembers how at the end of the seventies the father of a colleague showed up with a knife in the center shouting for Brother Elías.
“I wanted to kill him because he had abused his son.
He escaped through the roof.
In the end they transferred him to Huelva ”, says Jiménez.
This religious was also in charge of the cinema and the cafeteria.
"He was the projectionist and I sometimes accompanied him, but he never touched me," says Jiménez.
Trial begins against a Toledo priest accused of repeatedly abusing a minor
The prosecutor lowers the charges to a priest for abusing six minors because one closed his eyes when he was touched and "could not see him"
However, there are also cases in which someone warned the school and it did not help. Manuel Garach Gómez, a former student of the Marists of Granada, suffered touching in a school camp around 1984. He accuses Guillermo González, alias
, a layman who was the music teacher and coordinator of camps with the Ademar association in the Alpujarra. “It was my third year EGB summer, I was sleeping in my tent and suddenly I woke up with his hand on my parts, I stirred, and tried again. It was horrible. " He claims that this teacher had a house in a town where he also took students on weekends. Many years later, in 2010, Garach learned that this teacher was still in school and organizing camps. He relates that he went to the center and reported what happened to the director and the head of studies. "I was surprised that they only asked me what I wanted, as if I had gone to ask for money." He assures that he also reported it to the police and the agents went to school, but the case was closed by prescription. Nevertheless,assures that the Marists did not take any action and the professor continued in his post. When consulted in this regard, the order refuses to explain anything and to clarify whether it investigated the case and what measures it took.
Also at the Granada school, but years before, during the 1965/66 academic year, another former student recounted abuses by brother Clemente, nicknamed
, who gave drawing class in the first year of the Elementary High School, with children aged 10 and 11 : “I used to use my hand to masturbate in the middle of the class, while the more than forty children in the classroom were doing their homework. I never dared to mention it to my parents. But the rage still lasts 53 years later ”. The memories also turn the stomach of RCH, psychologist and former student of the Marist school in Malaga, who still remembers after 60 years how Brother Prudencio brought his lips to his face when they forced him to go to confession.
was a criminal terror," he says.
"For reporting it, I spent almost a year in forced labor," says a victim
A 62-year-old retired teacher remembers his experience when he arrived, in 1968 or 1969, at La Merced school in Murcia.
He was nine years old: “I still have in my head how Brother Millán called us to his table, in some classes that we had after lunch, studying.
There, while he asked us questions, he unbuttoned our pants and touched our genitals.
He did it with several students and some parents came to speak with the principal.
Then they transferred him ”.
After seeing in this newspaper the article on the cases of abuse in the Marists of Galicia, he looked for this religious and got "an unpleasant surprise": he is still active and is in another school of the Marists.
The order does not clarify at the moment if it will remove it or take action.
In the case of a former student who studied from 1970 to 1973 at the Santa María del Mar seminary, in La Marina-Elche, Alicante, it was he himself who denounced him to the management, but suffered harsh reprisals: “They punished me on weekends . The last year they made my life impossible, I spent almost forced labor on the chicken and rabbit farm, on the land, cleaning toilets, they exploited me when I was 10 years old, like in a prison. Then they told my parents that I was misbehaving and could not continue, on top of that they thought I was a bad person. I didn't tell anyone. Now I am 60 years old, but I continue living and suffering with the trauma of then ”. In his case, he accuses Brother Joaquín, who was one of the teachers and also the organist. He assaulted him several times after the choir rehearsals, next to the organ and in a retreat room: “He would pull up his cassock,He hooked it on the cord and rubbed it, touched you. He would stand against the door so that no one could enter. I once caught him in the staff room hooked up with another guy. At night he would go out to look for his victims in the bedroom, he was a predator ”.
Entrance of the Marist school Sants Les Corts (Barcelona).
Finally, in the Catalan province of the order there are three Marists appointed.
In Barcelona, at the Marist school of La Inmaculada, an alleged victim claims to have suffered abuse from two clergy in the early eighties.
On one occasion, he relates, his tutor punished him after a swimming lesson and sexually assaulted him.
His name was Ángel Benedé, one of the abusers in the case that
El Periódico de Catalunya
uncovered in 2016
"It was like living in a concentration camp with a Nazi psychopath," he relates.
The second episode, he describes, was in 1984, when another religious, Brother Bermúdez, made him call his office to lower his pants in front of him.
Another former student from Barcelona, but in this case from the Sants Les Corts school, accuses Brother Víctor, his history teacher in 1968, when he was 11 years old.
“He called us to the desk and touched your genitals.
I said it at home and at school they said they were children's inventions.
I must say that another Marist, Brother Ramón Rabasa, defended us and stopped him.
He took several of us out of that class in the middle of the year and put us in another ”.
Then, at the school of La Inmaculada, he ran into another Marist whose name has also come to light in the scandal, Lucio Zudaire: "But he caught me older, I slapped him and they expelled me."
If you know of any case of sexual abuse that has not seen the light of day, write us with your complaint to