Priest Arrested in Brazil on Charges of Sexually Abusing Boy
By ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO
New York Times
May 23, 2010
SÃO PAULO, Brazil — The authorities in Rio de Janeiro said Sunday that they had arrested a Polish priest and charged him with sexually abusing a 16-year-old former altar boy.
The judge who issued the arrest warrant said the priest, Father Marcin Michael Strachanowski, 44, had used his parish’s rectory as an “erotic dungeon” to carry out sex acts with boys.
The police in Rio de Janeiro State said that Father Strachanowski, who was arrested late Friday, was being held at a police station awaiting court proceedings. He is accused of handcuffing the 16-year-old to a bed “to satisfy his sexual whims,” according to state prosecutors.
It is the third case of sexual abuse involving a priest in Brazil, which has the world’s biggest Roman Catholic population, in the last two months.
In April, Msgr. Luiz Marques Barbosa, 83, and two other priests were taken into custody in northeastern Brazil and accused of abuse after a videotape surfaced of Father Barbosa having sex with a former altar boy. Also that month, in Franca, in southeastern Brazil, prosecutors charged the Rev. José Afonso with abusing altar boys ranging from 12 to 16 years old.
The Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro has relieved Father Strachanowski of his parish duties because of the criminal investigation, said Adionel Carlos da Cunha, a church spokesman. Mr. da Cunha said that church officials had been investigating Father Strachanowski for at least two years for suspected abuses of the teenager.
The archdiocese “expresses its regret over what happened, particularly with the people involved and especially to the possible victims,” Mr. da Cunha said in a statement released Friday.
Camila Donato, a spokeswoman for Rio’s civil police, said that complaints about Father Strachanowski first surfaced in 2004. The police began a formal investigation in 2007 based on the accusations of the 16-year-old.
Prosecutors said that Father Strachanowski began sending pornographic material to the boy in e-mail messages in early 2007. About February of that year, Father Strachanowski handcuffed the teenager to a bed in the rectory and forced him to perform sex acts, according to the state prosecutors.
At one point, the priest, “using coercion, put money into the pocket of the victim and demanded silence, threatening to tell everyone what had happened,” the public prosecutor said in the criminal complaint.