Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office said Saturday that it has opened criminal investigations against 29 religious leaders who are accused of sexually abusing children under 14.
The formal and preliminary criminal investigations are the result of the investigations of more than 1450 reports of alleged sexual abuse of minors received in 2014.
“In many of these cases appear that the involved predators are priests or clergies of several religious faiths,” the Prosecutor General’s Office said in a press release.
Sexual Offense Unit director Olga Helena Builles urged Colombians to report all alleged sex crimes, including those allegedly committed by religious leaders.
Builles stressed that “the prosecution can open investigations against members of the church as Colombian law does not limit or restrict this kind of criminal proceeding.”
“Priests, pastors or representatives of the different religious institutions do not have any type of immunity,” the prosecution chief said responding to an apparent misconception that members of religious institutions can count on leniency in court.
The Catholic Church has faced many thousands of criminal investigations worldwide after victims of sexual abuse committed by clergies filed criminal charges.
Fiscalía impulsa investigaciones contra religiosos por actos sexuales con menores de 14 años (Prosecutor General’s Office)