Photos: Survivors expose child sexual abuse in Spanish churches

On February 3, Miguel Hurtado and founder of the British National Association for People Abused in Childhood Briton Peter Saunders held placards outside Montserrat Monastery at Catalonia, Spain, demanding that the local abbot be defrocked for covering up sexual abuse. The pair, who were sexually abused in their youth, are among the numerous individuals who had been abused by priests as minors. After years, when survivors open up about their trauma, they aren’t eligible to take their abusers to court, owing to Spanish laws.

UPDATED ON FEB 21, 2019 12:02 PM IST 12 Photos
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Miguel Hurtado, 36, who says he was sexually abused at the age of 16 by a Benedictine monk from Montserrat Abbey in Catalonia, poses for a portrait in Madrid, Spain. "For me, the worst part were not the abuses, but the Church covering it up," Hurtado said. Since Hurtado went public with his accusations in January, eight people have denounced the same monk for having sexually abused them years ago, according to Spanish media. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

Miguel Hurtado, 36, who says he was sexually abused at the age of 16 by a Benedictine monk from Montserrat Abbey in Catalonia, poses for a portrait in Madrid, Spain. "For me, the worst part were not the abuses, but the Church covering it up," Hurtado said. Since Hurtado went public with his accusations in January, eight people have denounced the same monk for having sexually abused them years ago, according to Spanish media. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

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Miguel Hurtado poses for a portrait inside the church of the abbey in Montserrat, outside Barcelona, Spain. Hurtado said his abuser, 50 years his senior, touched his genitals under the pretext of telling him masturbation was wrong, and tried to tongue-kiss him, which left him “petrified, without knowing what to do”. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

Miguel Hurtado poses for a portrait inside the church of the abbey in Montserrat, outside Barcelona, Spain. Hurtado said his abuser, 50 years his senior, touched his genitals under the pretext of telling him masturbation was wrong, and tried to tongue-kiss him, which left him “petrified, without knowing what to do”. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

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Monk robes hang together during a mass at Montserrat Abbey, where Miguel Hurtado says he was sexually abused by a Benedictine monk at the age of 16. Hurtado said the abbot of Montserrat, Josep Maria Soler, had for years sought to silence his accusation that monk Andreu Soler sexually molested him 20 years ago when he was a 16-year-old Boy Scout in a group led by the monk. The monk, who shared the same last name but was not related to the abbot, died in 2008. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

Monk robes hang together during a mass at Montserrat Abbey, where Miguel Hurtado says he was sexually abused by a Benedictine monk at the age of 16. Hurtado said the abbot of Montserrat, Josep Maria Soler, had for years sought to silence his accusation that monk Andreu Soler sexually molested him 20 years ago when he was a 16-year-old Boy Scout in a group led by the monk. The monk, who shared the same last name but was not related to the abbot, died in 2008. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

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The cross of Saint Michael is seen in the surroundings of the Montserrat Abbey. Under Spanish law, victims of molestation cases that do not involve rape have five years after they have turned 18 to seek justice. More serious cases can be reported 15-20 years past the age of 18. Hurtado hopes to lift the initial threshold after which the statute of limitations kicks in to 50 from 18 years. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

The cross of Saint Michael is seen in the surroundings of the Montserrat Abbey. Under Spanish law, victims of molestation cases that do not involve rape have five years after they have turned 18 to seek justice. More serious cases can be reported 15-20 years past the age of 18. Hurtado hopes to lift the initial threshold after which the statute of limitations kicks in to 50 from 18 years. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

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A picture of Fernando Garcia-Salmones at the age of six hangs in his bedroom at his home in Madrid, Spain. Garcia-Salmones says he was raped by a priest from his school when he was 14. "The first reaction from the Church about the abuses has been to say that no homosexual will be allowed in seminaries. This is not about homosexuality, this is about power," Garcia-Salmones said. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

A picture of Fernando Garcia-Salmones at the age of six hangs in his bedroom at his home in Madrid, Spain. Garcia-Salmones says he was raped by a priest from his school when he was 14. "The first reaction from the Church about the abuses has been to say that no homosexual will be allowed in seminaries. This is not about homosexuality, this is about power," Garcia-Salmones said. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

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Fernando Garcia-Salmones, 58, poses at his home. On a rainy afternoon in 1975 Garcia-Salmones was by himself at his school's playground when he was called into the room of his abuser to get dry. "He realised I was vulnerable and helpless, a lonely little mouse, " he said. When Garcia-Salmones decided to take the case to the courts in 1995, it had already run its statute of limitations. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

Fernando Garcia-Salmones, 58, poses at his home. On a rainy afternoon in 1975 Garcia-Salmones was by himself at his school's playground when he was called into the room of his abuser to get dry. "He realised I was vulnerable and helpless, a lonely little mouse, " he said. When Garcia-Salmones decided to take the case to the courts in 1995, it had already run its statute of limitations. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

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The headlights of a passing car in Madrid illuminate the entrance to the gym of the school where Fernando Garcia-Salmones says he was raped by a priest almost 44 years ago. In Spain, historically a fervently Catholic country, activists say thousands of cases had likely been silenced and many could emerge now as the debate opens up. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

The headlights of a passing car in Madrid illuminate the entrance to the gym of the school where Fernando Garcia-Salmones says he was raped by a priest almost 44 years ago. In Spain, historically a fervently Catholic country, activists say thousands of cases had likely been silenced and many could emerge now as the debate opens up. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

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Philosophy teacher Teresa Conde, 52, poses outside the Padre Trinitarios school where she says she was raped by a priest 30 years her senior from the ages of 14 to 16 in Salamanca, Spain. "The rapist went unpunished then and those who covered up go unpunished now," says Conde, who opened up to her family about the rapes when she was 42 after a lifetime of psychological trauma. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

Philosophy teacher Teresa Conde, 52, poses outside the Padre Trinitarios school where she says she was raped by a priest 30 years her senior from the ages of 14 to 16 in Salamanca, Spain. "The rapist went unpunished then and those who covered up go unpunished now," says Conde, who opened up to her family about the rapes when she was 42 after a lifetime of psychological trauma. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

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Teresa Conde points at a picture of herself at the age of 15. She says she only started really living when the priest died three years ago. Father Daniel Garcia, a leading clergyman at the time in the area where Conde went to school, corroborated her story to Reuters based on a conversation he had with the priest 10 years ago. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

Teresa Conde points at a picture of herself at the age of 15. She says she only started really living when the priest died three years ago. Father Daniel Garcia, a leading clergyman at the time in the area where Conde went to school, corroborated her story to Reuters based on a conversation he had with the priest 10 years ago. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

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Conde poses on her couch, where she sleeps. She says she sleeps on the couch because she's still on alert, even though her abuse took place decades ago. The Vatican is holding an unprecedented meeting of senior bishops from around the world, experts and heads of male and female religious orders on Feb. 21-24 to discuss how to tackle sexual abuse. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

Conde poses on her couch, where she sleeps. She says she sleeps on the couch because she's still on alert, even though her abuse took place decades ago. The Vatican is holding an unprecedented meeting of senior bishops from around the world, experts and heads of male and female religious orders on Feb. 21-24 to discuss how to tackle sexual abuse. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

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The Padres Trinitarios school, where Teresa Conde says she was raped by a priest 30 years her senior when she was 14, is seen at dusk in Salamanca, Spain. On Saturday, the Vatican sent what some saw as a warning that it would get tough with bishops who have either committed abuse or covered it up. It expelled former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from the priesthood after he was found guilty of sexual crimes against minors and adults. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

The Padres Trinitarios school, where Teresa Conde says she was raped by a priest 30 years her senior when she was 14, is seen at dusk in Salamanca, Spain. On Saturday, the Vatican sent what some saw as a warning that it would get tough with bishops who have either committed abuse or covered it up. It expelled former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from the priesthood after he was found guilty of sexual crimes against minors and adults. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

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The window of one of the rooms of the Padre Trinitarios school. The government has drafted a bill that would extend the statute of limitations, although not as much as Hurtado proposes. It has not been submitted to parliament. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

The window of one of the rooms of the Padre Trinitarios school. The government has drafted a bill that would extend the statute of limitations, although not as much as Hurtado proposes. It has not been submitted to parliament. (Susana Vera / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 21, 2019 12:02 PM IST
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