A lower court in Costa Rica ruled that the Catholic Church in the Central American country must pay about $100,000 to a victim of sexual abuse committed by a former priest. The judgment will be appealed.
According to a local media report, on Aug. 23 a lower court issued the judgment against the Costa Rican Bishops’ Conference; the archbishop of San José, José Rafael Quirós Quirós; and temporalities (income, properties, stipends, etc.) of the Archdiocese of San José, accused of covering up sexual abuse by former priest Mauricio Víquez Lizano.
The compensation to be paid to Carlos Alberto Muñoz Quirós, a victim of Víquez Lizano, amounts to 65 million colones, or about $100,000. The court also ordered that the archdiocese pay the costs of the trial: 10.6 million colones, about $16,000.
According to crhoy.com (Costa Rica Today), the decision states that “with regard to Muñoz Quirós (the victim), Quirós Quirós (the archbishop), temporalities of the Archdiocese of San José, and the Bishops’ Conference of Costa Rica are jointly and severally liable, by virtue of the employment relationship of the former priest Víquez Lizano, who was incardinated in the Archdiocese of San José when he committed the sexual offenses against the plaintiff and the respective cover-up of said actions.”
Víquez Lizano, who for a time was a spokesman for the Church in Costa Rica, was expelled from the clerical state through a decree signed on Feb. 25, 2019, by Archbishop Quirós, issued after the conclusion of the priest’s canonical trial.
In March of this year, the Costa Rican Criminal Court sentenced Víquez Lizano to 20 years in prison for the sexual abuse and rape of an 11-year-old boy in 2003.
The response of the Archdiocese of San José
In an Aug. 23 statement, the Archdiocese of San José points out that the court’s decision is the judgment of a lower court.
“In this trial, Mr. Muñoz sought compensation for one hundred million colones, as damages for the acts perpetrated against him, in 1996, by the former priest Mauricio Víquez, who was not part of this trial,” continues the text.
“In its decision, the court accepted the claim and ordered the payment of compensation in the amount of 65 million colones. To reach that ruling, the court has interpreted that the criminal statute of limitations has not been reached,” says the archdiocese.
“Against the judgment we will file [an appeal for violation of procedural law] with the First Chamber of the Supreme Court, so that until the chamber has ruled on the appeal, the judgment will not be final,” the statement continues.
The statement also specifies that the archdiocese will reiterate “the existence of the statute of limitation and we will ask the chamber for the correct application of the law.”
“As we have indicated since the beginning of the trial, we fully trust the judicial system and the Costa Rican judges, and we will abide by what is determined in the ruling,” the statement concludes.