He headed the Vicariate of Solidarity, the Catholic Church’s human rights department during the Pinochet regime, directing a team of lawyers, social workers, researchers and volunteers who documented thousands of abuses and extended help to victims of those abuses. But it seems that Father Cristián Precht may have had his own dark side: the Archdiocese of Santiago has received at least 20 accounts of sexual abuse dating back to the 1980s.
According to a statement released by the Chilean Bishops Conference, http://documentos.iglesia.cl/conf/documentos_sini.ficha.php?mod=documentos_sini&id=4170&sw_volver=yes&descripcion= the investigation began when a witness came forward in late August of last year. Precht was ordered to “restrict the public exercise of his ministry” during the inquiry. More witnesses came forward, and the report compiled by two church investigators has been sent to the Vatican for further action.
It is a bitter irony that shortly before church officials began their investigation, Precht appeared at the premier of Los Archivos del Cardenal, a critically acclaimed television series based on the Vicariate’s work during the dictatorship (see early blog post https://notesontheamericas.wordpress.com/2011/09/02/nocturno-de-chile/). The president of the Agrupación de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos, Lorena Pizarro, told reporters that if the accusations are true, “then it is an absolute outrage.” A lawyer who worked at the Vicariate observed that the Pinochet regime’s secret police kept Precht and everyone else in the human rights entity under close surveillance and would have been aware of his actions.
The Centro de Investigacion Periodistica (CIPER) has a good report on the Precht investigation: