SEX ABUSE

Madrid social services treated school abuse victim but did not report case

Regional government says its hands were tied because such crimes are a semi-private issue

For a whole year, the Madrid region's social services assisted one of the alleged victims of sexual abuse by a teacher at Valdeluz Agustinos school, yet did not report the case to the attorney's office.

A spokesperson for this office said that more abuse could have been prevented if they had been made aware of the situation.

Last week it emerged that the abuse had been going on for years, and that the school principal was allegedly aware of it yet covered up for his employee. Around 10 similar complaints have been brought recently against Andrés Díez Díez, who taught music and philosophy at Valdeluz, a private Catholic center in northern Madrid that receives public funding.

The final report by the regional department of social services said the minor's testimony was credible and consistent with sexual abuse, and recommended that the parents file a formal complaint. But neither the parents nor this department did so.

A spokeswoman for the regional government, which has authority over Madrid’s schools, claimed that the penal code did not let them act because crimes against sexual integrity are considered semi-private, meaning that only the victims' parents could take that step.

Authorities are told that they should investigate whether this is an isolated case or whether there are more victims"

But sources at the Attorney General’s Office denied this, saying the minor's protection should be uppermost.

The police confirmed that the victim in question was 17 years old when she and her parents walked into a Madrid agency specializing in sexual abuse against minors, in January 2007. Specialists at this center provided psychological support until February 2008, then issued their report.

This is where legal experts disagree. Sources at the Attorney General’s Office say regional authorities could have informed them about it, which would have opened an investigation at the school. "By passing this information along, authorities are warned that they should investigate whether this is an isolated case or whether, on the contrary, there are more victims," said the source.

But the Madrid attorney, Manuel Moix, claimed the opposite, citing article 191 of the penal code. "If the parents did not file a complaint, the Madrid government could not go to the Attorney General’s Office," he said.

Félix Pantoja, who was for years the attorney for juvenile issues, said the civil code mandates that anyone who is aware of a crime being committed has the obligation to act.

On Friday, Andrés Díez Díez was denied bail and remanded into preventive custody by a judge in Madrid. The school principal and the director of studies have resigned following their arrest and subsequent release over the case.

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