Brazilian authorities have initiated an investigation against three priests after a television station aired a portion of a secretly taped sexual encounter between an 82-year-old monsignor and a 19-year-old altar boy. According to the SBT network, the altar boy had been working for the priest for more than four years.
Monsignor Luis Marques Barbosa, Raimundo Gomes, 52, and Father Edilson Duarte, 42, have been suspended by church authorities for allegedly having sexual relations with boys and young men. The television report included other young men saying that the trio engaged in years of sexual abuse.
The abuse allegedly took place in the northeastern state of Alagoas under the auspices of the Penedo archdiocese. All three priests have been charged by police and are free pending a police investigation. The Vatican acknowledges it has been monitoring the situation.
The charges cam to light last week after SBT broadcast footage of a man, who looks similar to Barbosa, having sex with the 19-year-old. The station said that the film was secretly recorded by another young man who said that Barbosa abused him since age 12. According to the network, they received the tape anonymously and initiated their own investigation that included confronting Barbosa.
When the reporter asked Barbosa directly if he ever abused boys, Barbosa says he could only answer such a question "in confession." He immediately ended the interview, which the station aired Thursday and posted on SBT's YouTube page.
The archdioceses Bishop Valerio Breda released a statement that said in light of the "grave and lamentable facts made public on television," Barbosa and the two other priests had been suspended.
"We reproach, without restriction and with hearts broken by shame and sadness, the facts in the report which, despite their not having been proven, have outraged human and Christian conscience," Breda wrote.