BUENOS AIRES – A Roman Catholic nun from Japan has been arrested and charged on suspicion of helping priests sexually abuse children at a school for youths with hearing disabilities in Argentina, authorities said.
Kumiko Kosaka was also charged with physically abusing the students at the Antonio Provolo Institute for children with hearing impairment in northwestern Mendoza province.
Local media showed the 42-year-old nun in handcuffs and wearing her habit and a bulletproof vest as she was escorted by police to a court hearing. Kosaka, who was born in Japan but has Argentine citizenship, denied any wrongdoing during the eight-hour hearing late Thursday.
Authorities say that Kosaka lived at the Provolo Institute from 2004-2012. She had been on the run for about a month before she turned herself in last week.
The case against the nun was launched after a former student accused her of making her wear a diaper to cover up a hemorrhage after she was allegedly raped by priest Horacio Corbacho.
Corbacho, fellow priest Nicola Corradi and three other men were arrested last year after they were charged with sexually abusing at least two dozen students at the Provolo Institute. They are being held at a jail in Mendoza and have not spoken publicly since the arrest. If found guilty, the accused face 10 to 50 years in prison.
Corradi had earlier been accused in Italy of abusing students at the Provolo Institute in Verona, a notorious school for the deaf where hundreds of children are believed to have been sexually assaulted over the years by two dozen priests and religious brothers.
Advocates for clerical sex abuse victims have expressed anger that Corradi wasn’t sanctioned by the Vatican and allegedly went on to abuse children in Pope Francis’ native Argentina.
Victims and prosecutors say the anal and vaginal rapes, fondling and oral sex allegedly committed by the priests took place in the bathrooms, dorms, garden and a basement at the school in Lujan de Cuyo, a city about 1,000 km (620 miles) northwest of Buenos Aires.
A Vatican investigative commission recently visited Mendoza to learn more about the case against the priests.