19 alleged abuse victims denounce Mexico priest

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Nineteen people have filed a criminal complaint alleging they were sexually abused by a now-suspended Mexican priest, and allege his archdiocese covered up the allegations for years.

The complaint was filed Friday with prosecutors in the central Mexican state of San Luis Potosi, where priest Eduardo Cordova had recently served as the archdiocese's legal representative.

Mexico's Roman Catholic Church announced on Tuesday that the Vatican had stripped Cordova of his clerical functions after investigations into allegations of the sexual abuse of a 16-year-old in 2012.

The allegations emerged in public in April when former priest Alberto Athie, who had long campaigned for recognition of the sex crimes of Legion of Christ founder Marcial Maciel, appeared on MVS radio in Mexico City and said there was evidence of scores of cases involving Cordova.

Armando Martinez Gomez, the president of the Catholic Lawyers College of Mexico, said this week that the church has forwarded evidence to Mexican prosecutors. He said church authorities had investigated a similar allegation in 1998 but had not found enough evidence to substantiate it.

Archdiocese officials said earlier in the month that other allegations had not been substantiated, but urged those with complaints to bring them to prosecutors. Cordova, however, has disappeared, according to church and prosecution officials.

Martinez, who is speaking for the archdiocese in the case, told The Associated Press that both the current and previous archbishops of San Luis Potosi are willing to cooperate with authorities.

Martin Faz, a spokesman for the activist group Citizen's Action that is backing the complaints, said they also accuse the archdiocese of covering up the crimes, saying it knew of the abuses since 2004. The 19 complaints filed Friday cover a decade during which Cordova was priest in the El Paseo neighborhood.

"Cordova had been abusing children and youth for 30 years in all the institutions in which he worked, and we calculate there could be 100 victims," said Athie, who leads Citizens' Initiative.

Fax said that Cordova would choose children aged 13 to 16, gain their confidence during confessions or pastoral work and then abuse them.

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