Church cross © Friso Gentsch
Italian prosecutors drop investigation into Sora-Cassino-Aquino-Pontecorvo bishop Gerardo Antonazzo on sexual harassment allegations.
The reason was a formal error; the necessary charges against the 59-year-old diocesan leader were missing, the chief prosecutor in charge of Cassino, Luciano D'Emmanuele, announced Monday, according to Italian media reports. In the case of sexual harassment, the judiciary in Italy is not allowed to investigate ex officio. The bishop of the diocese, located south of Rome, rejected the accusations as "completely groundless". He said he was not aware of any such investigations to date.
Accusations by candidates for the priesthood
Antonazzo allegedly approached candidates for the priesthood in an inappropriate manner and made sexual overtures to them, according to allegations investigated by prosecutors. The investigation was triggered by a candidate for the priesthood who accused Antonazzo of sexually harassing him and other seminarians in a letter to the daily newspaper "Il Tempo" in December. Investigators then questioned the candidates for the priesthood who were allegedly involved.
Investigative documents go to the Vatican
The prosecutor's office has sent the investigation documents to the Vatican. A canonical investigation could now be launched there. However, according to media reports, Vatican officials consider the allegations unfounded. These were contrived accusations by candidates for the priesthood that had not been accepted, it said, citing an unnamed Vatican source.