Rome priest on trial for abuse defends Pope
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Last Updated: Wednesday, April 28, 2010, 09:49
Rome: A politically connected priest on trial for allegedly sexually molesting young boys proclaimed his innocence and denounced what he said was "mud" being thrown on the Pope concerning the clerical abuse scandal.

The Rev Ruggero Conti made a spontaneous declaration during a court hearing in Rome. He is accused of sexual violence and prostitution concerning seven young boys who frequented his parish in a working class neighbourhood of Rome.

In police interrogations, the boys -- some as young as 13 at the time of the alleged abuse -- said Conti would masturbate them and force them to perform oral sex on him in his home where he frequently invited them to eat dinner and watch movies.

The case is being closely watched because Conti served as an adviser to Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno and worked in the Vatican's backyard.

In his declaration yesterday, Conti proclaimed his innocence and linked his case to the criticism the Pope has been weathering in recent weeks as the clerical abuse scandal swirls around the Vatican.

"Here I am, Mr President, and I am not a monster, I am innocent, I say it with clean conscience, humbly," Conti said.

"I am a priest, the infamies of which I am accused accumulate other hatred, not only on myself, but it (the hatred) bounces off immediately like a stone on the water to hit the Church and hurt the Holy Father," Conti said, denouncing the "mud" that has been thrown at the pontiff.

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, April 28, 2010, 09:49

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