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Portuguese TV presenter among six convicted over child prostitution at Casa Pia state-run orphanages
Portuguese TV presenter Carlos Cruz, who paid for sex with a 14-year-old boy, the court was told. Photograph: Tiago Petinga/EPA
One of Portugal’s most famous television presenters and a former ambassador were among six men found guilty yesterday of involvement with a paedophile prostitution ring that exploited children from state-run orphanages.
The guilty verdicts handed down to TV presenter Carlos Cruz and the five others exposed the truth of more than three decades of rumours about systematic abuse of young boys at the 230-year-old Casa Pia network of orphanages.
It was only when Joel, a former orphanage boy, came forward in 2002 and accused some of the country’s best-known names of being involved that Portugal woke up to full horror of the scandal.
Members of Portugal’s media, civil service and professional elite were alleged to be regular abusers of the boys, some younger than 14. Even well-known politicians were involved, it was initially rumoured. A flood of accusations from boys who had passed through the Casa Pia system followed. Some 32 boys alleged at least 800 crimes.
The case pitted the orphanage boys against a group of well-educated, influential people – including a former ambassador to Unesco, a lawyer, a doctor and Cruz. Yesterday, eight years after they dared to speak out, the boys finally won their case.
The four men and two former orphanage employees received sentences of between just under six years and 18 years. Carlos Silvino, a 53-year-old Casa Pia worker who confessed to 600 crimes and gave evidence against other defendants was sentenced to 18 years.
“The court recognised that we were telling the truth,” said Bernardo Teixeira, one of the victims. “It’s a happy ending for us. The paedophiles are going to jail.”
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Tags: Abuse, Carlos Cruz, Crime, Pedophile, Pedophile ring, Portugal, Sex, Society, TV