A popular jury found a teacher of theology, catechism and human rights accused of having abused two female students in 2010 and 2011 in Bahía Blanca, in southern Buenos Aires, judicial sources reported.
As revealed in court, one of these abuses occurred when the minor was under the custody of the teacher on a trip to another province.
The defendant is Juan Matías Bongiovanni, 43 years old, who has been held in preventive detention since last year for the crimes of “seriously outrageous sexual abuse aggravated by the custody of the victim and seriously outrageous sexual abuse to the detriment of two female students.”
After the deliberation, which lasted more than an hour and a half, the twelve members of the popular jury They found the teacher guilty after the argument made by the parties during the hearing by the technical judge Claudia Fortunatti.
The spokesmen told Télam that “the two victims declared during the first days offering a detailed account of the relationship they had with the teacher of the religious schools they attended”.
During their testimonies, according to the sources, the two victims described “that the teacher tried to approach him in various ways so that the young women felt admiration for him.”
“Such a fact was that later it prevented them from processing the abuse of which they were being victims through the manipulative actions of the person in charge of the class and the social group that provided assistance and recreational functions in Villa Esperanza de Bahía Blanca,” they added.
It was also pointed out that in the hearings experts and psychologists corroborated “the anguish that the young women went through after being abused, that they had a coherent story and that they did not fabricate”.
According to the investigation carried out by the prosecutor for Sexual Offenses, Marina Lara, the professor worked as a teacher of catechism, theology and human rights in different religious schools in the city.
“The man had formed a volunteer group called Aclaró and he used his position and the trust he generated with the students to invite them to participate in a social volunteering group”they added.
As indicated, and recorded in the file, “in this framework, trips were organized to other locations and coexistence where they stayed to sleep in different spaces, places where the abuses were committed between 2010 and 2011.”
The teacher was arrested on April 7, 2021 by the Buenos Aires police in the town of Coronel Suárez, where he had lived for some time, after an order issued by the judge of Guarantees 4 of Bahía Blanca, Marisa Promé, after a request from the prosecutor Marina Lara.
“Subsequently, and in the framework of a hearing before the prosecutor, the teacher himself denied having anything to do with the events”they added from the Public Ministry.
Following the popular jury’s decision, the Prosecutor Lara said “it was the error we expected because the test was overwhelming, the victims testified with great precision and anguish”.
“There were two (victims) on trial, but there were many testimonies of similar cases,” added Lara during a contact with the press.
The judicial official said that “there were four facts, the last one regarding a victim being of legal age, but the jury considered him not guilty in that case and the other three when they were minors.”
“The key is the truth, here the jury was very clear, this is not a fight between women against men or vice versa, Justice has no colors, gender, it’s only true,” he added.
Lastly, he argued thatthe penal code establishes a scale of punishment that goes from 8 to 20 years in prison” and pointed out that the amount of the sentence will be known at a hearing that will take place in the coming days.