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18-year-old helper accuses Catholic priest of rape

July 2, 2011 3:44pm
BUTUAN CITY — A 18-year-old high school student in Tubay town in Agusan del Norte is accusing a Catholic parish priest of rape, a human rights group said Friday.

According to Dr. Naty Castro, secretary general of human rights group Karapatan-Caraga chapter, the victim also sought the help of women’s group Gabriela and the Missionary Sisters of Mary (MSM) in making her complaint against Tubay parish priest Fr. Raul Cabonce.

Castro said the victim, who is now under the care of her close relatives in Barangay Maningalao in Las Nieves town, was a working student at St. Anne Parish.

Barangay Maningalao is a far-flung barangay of Las Nieves, which is about 80 kilometers away from Tubay and about 25 kilometers from Butuan City, Caraga region's capital.

Castro told GMA News Online that her colleague Gabriela secretary general Atel Hijos and the group's field worker had direct access to the victim.

Also, Catsro said Gabriela is helping the victim and her family amid alleged threats to their lives.

In a phone interview with GMA News Online, Gabriela's Hijos confirmed the rape complaint against Fr. Cabonce, but could not give much details on the case as she was still on the road during the interview.

Bombo Radyo Butuan had reported that the rape incidents happened in February and March this year.

In live broadcast interviews on Friday and Saturday on DXBR Bombo Radyo Butuan, the victim explained how she was raped by Cabonce on February 3 and on March 14.

She alleged that on Feb. 3, Cabonce ordered her to massage him and then the priest requested for oral sex.

The victim said that after she refused to give in to the request, Cabonce raped her.

Moreover, the victim said that on March 14, Cabonce called her again and ordered her to massage him. Again, the priest raped her.

Sobbing during the radio interview, the victim claimed that when she returned home in September last year, she told her parents that the suspect had started to caress her and touch her private parts.

She said her mother advised her then to take care of herself as it was unwise to stop her studies in the middle of the school year just to avoid the priest, who earlier offered to send her to school if she would agree to work at his convent.

Poverty had forced her to accept Cabonce's offer, the girl said.

Before he was transferred to Tubay town, Cabonce served as parish priest of Las Nieves, the victim's hometown.

The victim said she and her parents are determined to file a case against Cabonce.

GMA News Online tried many times but failed to contact Cabonce. Also, GMA News went to the Butuan Diocese bishop's house twice to verify the matter, but there was no office personnel to answer queries.

GMA News Online also tried to reach Butuan Diocese Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos for comment but again to no avail. — Ben Serrano/LBG, GMA News
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