Father Nicolás Parma was sentenced last Wednesday to 17 years in prison after being found guilty of the sexual abuse of two seminarians in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz.
The abuses were committed between 2009 and 2012 at the Exaltación de la Cruz parish in Puerto Santa Cruz where the trial was held.
Parma is the second priest from the Congregation of the Discíples of Jesus of Saint John the Baptist brotherhood to be sentenced for sexual abuse since its founder Agustín Rosa Torino was convicted last July with a 12-year prison sentence at the other end of the country in Salta.
The court ruling considered Parma’s crime to be "doubly aggravated by having been committed by a minister of religion entrusted with the education and tutelage of minors" and for having been committed continuously against another minor.
Remanded in custody at the Puerto Santa Cruz police station since 2018, the priest followed the hearing in remote form. His lawyer Cristian Ariel anticipated that he would appeal the sentence.
The victims Yair Gyurkovitz and Jonatan Alustiza heard the sentence from their current homes at an even greater distance – from the Salta town of Cafayate and from Pergamino, Buenos Aires Province.
According to his own account, Alustiza was 14 when in March, 2009 he arrived from Pergamino to Puerto Santa Cruz to follow his religious calling. He lived in a house next to the parish church with Parma and another man.
"That same year the abuses began but I could not talk to anybody. I had neither a telephone nor money and we were forbidden to tell what was going on within the congregation," Alustiza told the La Nación newspaper.
The next year more adolescents started arriving, reaching a total of 13 in Parma’s care.
"The other seminarian [Gyurkovitz] and I are the visible faces of these charges but I’m sure more were abused. We went through horrors at that place. We were morally captive, we could not think, it was impossible to leave and I started thinking of suicide," said the young man, now 26.
In 2012 with his secondary education completed, Jonathan was transferred to Salta to become a novice priest. There he told about the abuses to which he had been submitted by Parma to the Congregation’s founder, Rosa Torino, who asked him to forgive and forget since it was only "a weakness of a brother." Rosa Torino, who also abused him, was convicted at another trial in Salta.
Alustiza escaped, managed to have his documents returned and went back home but it was many years before he found the courage to denounce the abuses in court.