MEXICO CITY, MX.- Although 19 years have passed since the events occurred in 2002, after suicide attempts, psychiatric therapy, and tortuous processes before canonical and judicial courts, José Leonardo Araujo, a native of Mérida, Venezuela, decided to denounce a case of child molestation he suffered at the hands of Mexican priest Juan Huerta, then assigned to that nation and currently officiating in Mexico City.
Tortuous judicial and canonical processes have complicated justice but, finally, he adds, after an initial disdain from religious instances that demanded more evidence, the Canonical Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Mexico opened a loophole to judge.
After several years of keeping his status private, Araujo decided to initiate legal and religious proceedings in 2018 against Huerta as a way to overcome, he told a press conference, the sense of guilt he has carried ever since. The events began in 2001 when at the age of 13, he decided to lean towards the priesthood in the Society of St. Paul, which operated in his native Merida, Venezuela.
With the endorsement of his parents, convinced of Huerta’s benevolence, they let him go to Huerta’s house where, he says, he soon began to be abused every Saturday in the priest’s room. Almost a year of a situation of submission, he admits, finally ended when he decided to write a letter to Huerta rejecting that condition. “He foisted a pang of guilt on me. I was 13 years old, he was 46. His absolution was sacrilegious because he put the blame on me.”
The aftermath continues to this day, Araujo points out. It was in 2018 when he decided to proceed criminally in Venezuela, where there is an open case for sexual abuse against Huerta and before religious authorities.
The Archdiocese of Mexico and the church official in our country, Franco Coppola, are aware of the case. The Canonical Tribunal has opened a door to justice, Araujo assures. But it happened only after the disdain of the Society of St. Paul where he went in the first instance to denounce Huerta and even the initial minimization of the Archdiocese. They demanded proof of his accusations, witnesses of what happened, he reproaches.
He has a psychological diagnosis of the mental consequences caused by the abuse in his adolescence, which continues until now.