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Argentine ex-archbishop gets 8 years in sex-abuse case, court reports

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ex-archbishop "acted with total impunity" judge said in sentencing
  • Edgardo Gabriel Storni denied wrongdoing in letter to pope and in court
  • Storni's case has been under appeal since 2003 conviction
  • He was convicted of molesting a seminary student in 1992
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(CNN) -- A former Catholic archbishop in Argentina has been sentenced to eight years in prison for sexual abuse of a seminary student in 1992, a court report said Wednesday.

Former Archbishop Edgardo Gabriel Storni "acted with total impunity" and there was enough proof to convict him, Judge Maria Amalia Mascheroni said in the sentencing.

"Being a rector of the faith, his injurious and immoral attitude contributed to the lack of credibility in the religious institution," the judge is quoted as saying in a report by the Judicial Information Center, the nation's official court news service.

Mascheroni is a judge in the sentencing court in Santa Fe, where Storni was archbishop.

Storni resigned in September 2002, after news of the scandal broke. He wrote a letter to then-Pope John Paul II in which he said he did not recognize any "faults" or "guilt," the state-run Telam news agency said Wednesday.

Three months later, the news agency said, Storni denied any wrongdoing in court.

Storni was found guilty in February 2003 and has been appealing his verdict, Telam said.

He has since lived on a church-owned farm in Cordoba province, in central Argentina. Santa Fe, where Storni was archbishop, is located in northeastern Argentina.

Seminary student Ruben Descalzo did not come forth with his accusation until 2002, a decade after the molestation occurred. Descalzo said the archbishop invited him up to his apartment and hugged him when they reached the door, Telam reported. The archbishop prolonged the hug, held him tightly and kissed him on the neck, Descalzo said.

Storni's lawyer, Eduardo Jauchen, told Telam he will appeal the latest ruling. The verdict, he said, must be based on solid proof.

"It can't be suspicion, rumors or unilateral versions that convict a person," he said. "Our democratic and republican system tries to avoid this type of arbitrariness. For that reason, either we live in democracy and a republic or we keep living in chaos, disorder and we blame a person because of commentaries."