Saturday, March 25

Santiago, victim of abuse in La Salle San Fernando: “40 years ago brother Juan Antonio ended my life”

He is 52 years old and feels that he has been dead since he was 12. This is how Santiago Codesido feels, a resident of the Cadiz town of San Fernando who suffered the abuse of Juan Antonio, a brother of La Salle who has destroyed his life. After going through that hell and being on the verge of death from various illnesses, he has decided to tell about his experience in the hope that it can serve so that no minor goes through something like this again.

Victims of sexual abuse doubt the role of the Church in a future investigation: “They are afraid of the truth”

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Santiago put his case in the hands of the Repara Project, a body created at the time by the Archbishopric of Madrid and which is in charge of caring for victims of abuse. From there he went to the upper echelons of La Salle and a process has been started that does not repair the damage suffered but, at least, he says, serves to give visibility to cases like his.

Do you feel a sense of liberation after recounting that you were abused as a child?

For me there is no feeling of liberation. 40 years ago a brother of La Salle ended my life. I don’t have any social relationships, I’ve lost my two daughters, I don’t like being touched and all because of a religious man who abused me when he was 12 years old. Behind a cross and a collar they have abused thousands of children. I’m not saying it, it’s the American Catholic Church, the Irish, the Italian… except the Spanish. The Spanish Episcopate continues to confront the Roman curia because it does not accept the authority of the Pope.

Is it no use that Pope Francis has expressed the shame he feels for the abuses?

The Pope is a marketing product. He has done what he could and what he is trying is very good, but he will not be able to with the Roman curia nor will he be able to with the Episcopal Conference of Spain. I no longer want to be happy, I just want to stop suffering or suffer as little as possible. Socially and professionally I am dead, in every way. I have returned to San Fernando, which is my land, but I will never be the same person I was before I was 12 years old.

What exactly happened to him?

The abuses began in sixth of EGB and end in 1st of BUP. I was in the movement of catholic scouts of La Salle San Cristóbal and everything happened there. Juan Antonio was in charge of the pioneer scouts, who in theory were the oldest. Every month there was a camping trip and we went to Alcalá de los Gazules. The booths were for three people and he was always in the center. He had a person on the right and me on the left. The first time my friends from La Salle and I drank alcohol was when I was 12 years old because he gave us a drink he called panther’s milk. I have psychiatric reports telling me I don’t know how I survived what this man was doing.

How do you remember those difficult moments?

Every 15 days was an ordeal. Every time we went we drank more to forget about what was going to happen that night. The first time there was touching under my pants. And 12 years from now are not the 12 years from 40 years ago. For me, sexuality then was giving a girl a kiss, there was no more. He had a person to his right, who was his Praetorian Guard, and he knew what was going on. I did not understand what was happening and I asked him if when they spoke in the catechesis that Jesus spoke with John the beloved they were referring to this. And he told me not to bring God into this. From then on, I already knew what was going to happen every 15 days in that booth.

Didn’t you tell your parents?

We are talking about the fact that then one could not speak ill of the Church, but there came a time when I could no longer speak ill of the Church. In 1st year of BUP I told my mother what was happening to me and I also told another person that I knew the same thing was happening to her. I told him that the only solution is for our mothers to talk to the La Salle management. From that moment on, I only know that my aggressor was transferred to another center.

Do you know anything about its existence since then?

I know that he is alive and that he is 63 years old. When the events occurred, he was about 22 years old. In Spain there is talk of many things such as the reviewable permanent prison but it is not said that these abuses were made, are being made and will be made.

Yes, the Repair Project has served, which has been the first step for the aggressor to end up being denounced by the La Salle brothers themselves before the Prosecutor’s Office.

It was La Salle who denounced him after I spoke with Repara. I am very grateful to the person from Repara who has helped me in these years as a victim of abuse. As a result, José Ramón Pérez, the person who is in charge of La Salle in Spain and Portugal, has contacted my brother, has asked me for forgiveness and has confirmed the name of the person who abused me. But I am not a hero, I just want this person to never come into contact with minors again. He has done what he has wanted for many years.

The worst thing is that, according to her account, her assailant had collaborators who covered him up, right?

Juan Antonio is a sexual predator. But there was a group of people who allowed it, who were complicit. I am not against La Salle, neither against the Church nor against the Jesuits. In fact, I even wear a cross. I am against what happened to me.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso says about the abuses committed from the Church that are mistakes like those of any institution…

I don’t know Ayuso nor do I have any interest in meeting her. If they have children, I would ask her or Pablo Casado what they would like if they went through this. I’m tired of saying it: I’ve wasted my whole life. I would tell these people to ask themselves if this is normal. 40 years ago, in the late Franco regime, nothing could be done to the Church, but now everything remains the same with democracy. I hope and trust that Pedro Sánchez will do something, that he will be brave. I don’t care anymore because I already have more past than future. After going through many illnesses and after having lost everything, I already told myself that it was enough to cheat the loner and that he should tell the truth. The truth is this and I defy anyone who tells me that it is not so.

Abuses in the Church, in ‘Un tema al Día’, the podcast

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