LA PAZ – A defrocked Bolivian priest has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for sexually abusing 19 children at a shelter in the central city of Cochabamba, the press reported.
A court in that city handed down the ruling on Thursday, according to the head of the Cochabamba municipal government’s gender, generational and family matters department, Raquel Melgar.
Fifty-year-old Jose Mamani Ochoa was convicted of abusing the children aged five to 15 at the home, where he used to serve as director, and of falsifying documents, the daily Los Tiempos de Cochabamba reported Friday.
The Catholic hierarchy in that city announced in July 2009 that Mamani had been discharged from the priesthood after it learned of the first accusations against him.
Mamani was accused of sexually abusing children in the showers and bedrooms of the home on a regular basis and also of using the children to keep watch over parishioners’ vehicles during Mass or sending them to work as pastors in his mother’s home region, prompting separate accusations of labor exploitation.
Cochabamba’s Ombud’s Office for Children and Adolescents said it considers the sentence too lenient and will seek to have an appeals court extend the prison term to 30 years, the maximum allowed under Bolivian law.