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Guilty verdicts in Portugal child abuse case

By Al Goodman, CNN
Alleged victims say they were abused when they were in Casa Pia, a state-run orphanage in Lisbon, Portugal.
Alleged victims say they were abused when they were in Casa Pia, a state-run orphanage in Lisbon, Portugal.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Judges issue guilty verdicts against six defendants
  • The judges did not immediately reveal the specific crimes
  • The trial has been going on for years
  • Prosecutors tallied a total of 800 crimes against the defendants
RELATED TOPICS
  • Portugal

(CNN) -- Judges issued guilty verdicts Friday in Lisbon against six defendants, including a well-known Portuguese television star and a former diplomat, in a long-running child sexual abuse case that has riveted national attention, according to CNN affiliate TVI.

A woman who had been accused along with the six was acquitted, it said.

The three-judge panel did not, however, immediately reveal the specific crimes committed by each defendant, who all maintain their innocence.

Prosecutors tallied a total of 800 crimes against the defendants after hearing from 32 alleged victims who said they were raped and otherwise abused as children when they were in Casa Pia, a state-run home for orphans and the needy in Lisbon.

The case began when a group of nine boys who had been at the home accused several people of sexual abuse between 1998 and 2001.

Soon after, other alleged victims stepped forward.

The allegations against the defendants shocked the country and Portugal's then-president, Jorge Sampaio, called the case "a national disgrace," Portuguese media reported at the time.

The trial started in late 2004. Hundreds of witnesses and experts have testified.

The alleged victims and the defendants were due to be in court on Friday. State-run RTP TV was broadcasting the proceedings live in Portugal, with a slight delay to electronically distort the names of the alleged victims, which by law, cannot be broadcast, an RTP editor, Rosa Salgueiro told CNN.

The alleged victims are now between ages 18 to 23. They had been in the care of the Casa Pia, a 200-year-old institution that serves several thousand children.

A key defendant is a former driver at the school, suspected of sexually abusing boys and also delivering them to other defendants, news reports said.