Many people ask me how have I managed not to fall ill nor to give up. I’ve told them the truth: that I have been sick, because I’ve contracted cancer, which some believe has been brought on by the somatization of the injustice I’ve been suffering for so long. If I haven’t fallen into an irreversible depression, I believe that it’s only been thanks to the closeness and affection of the people who love me and care about me. I’m especially hurt by the suffering this has brought on my family.
Since 2010 I have faced an administrative process of the Basque Government’s Department of Education, an investigation by the Chief Prosecutor of the Basque Country and a criminal one that began in Getxo, continued in Bilbao, and ended up in the Supreme Court in Madrid. From the very first moment onwards, I was convicted without proof in the court of public opinion: it has always been about the word of Juan Cuatrecasas against my own. Unfortunately, it seems that in these cases the burden of proof is reversed, and it is you who must prove your innocence.
Juan Cuatrecasas had been in poor health since he was very young. It’s not me who says that but rather his medical record, which since the beginning is documented in the inquiry, and which—after the trial in Bilbao in 2018, which was public—is known. During his primary school years, he missed classes frequently due to general malaise, headaches, vomiting, or muscle strains. His pediatrician recommended that he take anti-anxiety medication when he was 10 years old. At that time, I still didn’t know him.
I was Juan’s mentor between 2008 and 2010. That last year was when Juan left Gaztelueta. I remember that, right when I began to teach his class, he missed the very first day of classes. His absences continued during that first trimester on many occasions, until on 1 December he had surgery for appendicitis. When I found out he had been admitted as a patient at Cruces Hospital, I organized a hospital visit with myself and two of his classmates. I believe both he and the family appreciated the gesture, and thus began what I believed to be a cordial relationship. In fact, they invited me to have a meal at their home a couple of times.
Juan wasn’t failing, but neither was he among the best students, as his parents were demanding. When he completed 2nd of ESO (the Spanish equivalent of 8th grade of primary school), they communicated that they would be changing schools for him because they wished to strengthen his level of English. During the two years in which I was his mentor, I strived to help Juan to improve his results. I had that same dedication with the other students, as they, their families, and my fellow teachers have confirmed. For that selfless dedication I maintain the respect and appreciation of many students and their parents. Furthermore, the people who have known me and who have seen me work have never believed the accusations.
My conversations with Juan and with the other students took place in an office situated between several classrooms. It was a well-traveled location where balls, the first-aid kit, and typical classroom items were stored. We would close the door because the ambient noise could be bothersome, but never with a key and never dead bolted. It has seemed unbelievable to me to prove how that office was turned into some type of torture chamber for those who, without ever seeing it, testified in the Bilbao trial. However, those who had been there, including the Basque Government inspector, were very clear and testified as such in court, that therein the lamentable acts of which I was accused could not have taken place, because it was a totally exposed location.
THE FIRST ACCUSATIONS
Juan left Gaztelueta in 2010. According to a friend of his, he didn’t want to leave the school: his parents made the decision. In fact, he got to a new school, and it didn’t go well for him. He needed the help of the guidance counselors there, and once again he exhibited the same anxiety that he had suffered from 1st of ESO and prior years. In June of 2011, Juan’s parents came to Gaztelueta to report the cyberbullying incident, and another previous case of personal bullying, taking place during the academic years from 2008 to 2010, to the Assistant Headmaster of the College, Imanol Goyarrola, and which, according to what they expressed to him, they believed I had organized. There were eight students accused by the family, and the Attorney General’s Office for Juveniles accused two of them. The Department of Education was also made aware of the entire matter.
The fact is that the District Attorney and the judge resolved the complaint with an act of reparation by the perpetrators: an essay about the harassment. They said nothing regarding me. The parents did not accept a reconciliation meeting with the accused, nor an apology letter from them. That was the first accusation. Since then, the accusations they have made against me have been more serious each time.
After they reported the harassment in Gaztelueta, Juan’s health worsened. Since then, the accusations against me kept increasing, until in 2015 they accused me of “forcing him to self-sodomization.” Even writing those words leaves me nauseated. In any case, the made-up story had now “snowballed” and grown to that extreme.
THE FAMILY SETTING
When I was accused by the family, the school’s leadership spoke with me formally to advise me of the gravity of the situation; I stood by in 2011 what I stand by in 2023: that I am innocent. I offered to speak with the family to explain my version of events, but I heard from the leadership of the school that the family didn’t wish to speak with me. That was the time frame in which they now say if we had only demonstrated more closeness, all the rest would not have been necessary. It’s the same time frame in which, according to what the College has explained at one moment during the process, the family was recording the conversations with the Assistant Headmaster of Gaztelueta without his knowledge. If anyone broke off communication, it was Juan’s parents. It’s outrageous that now they would say the opposite.
The Cuatrecasas couple has said truly atrocious things about me: above all, they have dehumanized me when saying that I’ve committed everything that they attribute to me, and that I have neither remorse nor shame for not asking forgiveness. I cannot ask for forgiveness because my innocence is non-negotiable. Before, it was remarkable to me that they never even considered the possibility that they could be mistaken. Now, I’m no longer even surprised: their discourse has become a way of life.
Juan’s parents spoke with him many times about what happened, according to their own testimonies before the judge in Bilbao. They claim that the details which led to my conviction began appearing in those conversations.
During those years, two people influenced the Cuatrecasas family in an exceptional way: the attorney, Leticia de la Hoz, and the psychiatrist, Iñaki Viar. Leticia de la Hoz, as she herself asserted in an interview in La Nueva España on 6 October 2015, was the one who had the idea to use the Pope as a tool for their interests in the case: “It seemed to us like a letter to the Pope could be a good means of denunciation.” Iñaki Viar, convicted in 1970 to twenty years in jail for belonging to ETA and for collaborating in the placement of a bomb without casualties, was key in the trial at the Court of Bilbao. He had treated Juan as a doctor and as a friend of the family, and throughout several sessions, had been able to learn about everything that had happened. There I was, hearing how this kind of guru had managed to extract “the truth.” But in reality nobody has ever provided proof, simply because there isn’t any.
For twelve years I’ve been asking myself the question: why is Juan accusing me of some acts that I didn’t commit? What he asserts only occurred in his head. It seems to me that this disgrace is not due to one cause alone. On the one hand, there are his health problems. On the other, there is the bullying that his former classmates carried out against him. I would add that the persistent interrogations from various people and the need to find a justification for his academic and personal failure have also hurt him. Juan himself has also stated that he has not been well, that he has even experienced hallucinations (Diario Vasco, 5/10/2018); and his father also explained in an interview on Radio Euskadi in January of 2013 that Juan didn’t tell things from one day to the next, but rather that his wife had been “pulling on the thread” for months. In any case, what I can swear is that I am innocent of that of which I am being accused.
THE SUPREME COURT CORRECTED THE PROVINCIAL COURT
I spent six days—between 4 and 11 October 2018—in the front row of a courtroom in the Bilbao Courthouse. Judge Alfonso González Guija, president of the tribunal, declared me guilty. Until then I had believed in justice. I thought that nobody could be convicted without proof. And that in my case, there was no proof because there was no crime. But I was mistaken. There are journalists who don’t tell the truth. There are politicians who don’t look for the common good. There are teachers who don’t prepare for their classes well. And there are judges who convict without proof.
González Guija started the trial after I had been convicted in the court of public opinion. A conviction would be very well received by the media. An acquittal would be unpopular. It is assumed that a judge must be immune to those pressures.
Among other outlandish arguments, the tribunal judged that, if the teachers and students of the school unanimously supported my innocence, then that coincidence demonstrated that they had all collaborated and agreed on their testimony before coming to the trial. Certainly, several psychological reports indicated that the account of Juan Cuatrecasas was plausible. Maybe he believes that all of that happened, but in any case, it only happened in his head. Perhaps that version of events has become part of “his truth.” Juan suffered a post-traumatic shock. That much became clear in the Bilbao trial. What did not become clear was the cause.
González Guija and the other two judges sentenced me to eleven years in prison, something that exceeded what even the plaintiff demanded. The court took the easy route: faced with the complexity of the case, rather than find me innocent for lack of proof, they convicted me, and moreover, with an exemplary punishment.
I pleaded my case to the Supreme Court. For almost two years I had to appear weekly at court to show signs of life and sign a certificate. During that period, I tried to turn something I hated, and which seemed to me like something only criminals do, into a routine. In September of 2020, the Supreme Court reduced my sentence to two years, so I didn’t have to enter prison. I remember that day as especially bittersweet. On the one hand I avoided jail, but on the other, I was still declared guilty of several acts that I have not committed. That sensation, a mixture of relief and helplessness, remains with me even today. According to what my attorney and other attorneys have explained to me, the Supreme Court rejected the most serious charges because, among other reasons, the reasoning of the Court of Bilbao violated the presumption of innocence. They also explained to me that the Supreme Court did not assess the evidence regarding the less serious offenses reviewed by the Vizcayan court. Ultimately, what I think is that they didn’t want to completely overrule the Bilbao tribunal.
I also appealed to the Constitutional Court, knowing that there would be little chance that my case would be accepted on appeal. But I did not want to disregard any option to try to defend my innocence. My appeal was “denied.”
THE ECCLESIASTICAL INVESTIGATIONS
In January of 2015, they sent the priest Silverio Nieto so he could investigate the complaint. I always collaborated with what they requested from me because I trusted—as indeed it turned out—that I would be able to cast light on the falsehood of the complaint. Nieto was presented by Religión Digital—the website that has acted like the family’s spokesperson—as the great scourge against ecclesiastical pederasty in Spain. He was a relentless person and of notable experience in these situations. On 14 October 2015, that digital diary wrote, “Silverio Nieto subjected them to an exhaustive interrogation regarding the case. Both the father and the boy. A two-and-a-half-hour interrogation. Thoroughly and mercilessly. Silverio asked questions and Rafael Felipe [the notary] took notes on his computer.” In the beginning, the family complained about the excessive rigor of the conversations with Nieto, as Religión Digital wrote. Later, after learning his verdict, they declared that the process had been informal and very inconsistent. Silverio Nieto committed a grave error: he concluded that I was innocent. From that moment onwards, he became a concealer, irresponsible, and corrupt.
Last September, through a person in leadership within Opus Dei, I received news that the Holy See had ordered a canonical process to “purify responsibilities and help heal the wounds produced.” Before any official notification had arrived to me or to my attorneys, it was published in the media. The news is already a judgment of guilt. The Pope has written letters to Juan—which his entourage has leaked to the press and have been published—in which the Pope tells him that he can be at peace, that an investigation is going to begin, but not to worry, that he is going to name the tribunal, presided over by José Antonio Satué, bishop of Teruel, and that he will keep him up to speed on its progress.
Apparently, in the new process, they want to apply to me an ecclesiastical norm approved retroactively to the alleged incidents. My attorneys have indicated to the bishop of Teruel that the principle of retroactivity of the law goes against human rights. They have also highlighted other juridical irregularities: for example, that the Church would apply ecclesiastical legislation to a lay person; that the Pope—who appoints the tribunal—would receive one of the parties and not the other; or that I would find out about his decisions through the media. In fact, a week ago Religión Digital published that the Pope would not receive me, despite a request that I sent him via letter a few months ago: I didn’t know that myself until then. Satué has indicated to my attorneys that the Pope is judge and universal legislator, and that he can make whatever decisions he likes. It seems to me that the Pope is very poorly advised, and as far as I know, after my attorneys have spoken with quite a few experts, there are reasons to bring this matter before both Spanish and international civil and criminal courts.
I am crushed by so much abuse. I’ve had to change jobs and leave behind my life-long passion: education. They have destroyed my life. I was unjustly convicted, and I fulfilled my sentence. Now, I would like them to leave me in peace and for justice to be done. If I must go to Rome or Strasbourg for that to be done, then I’m ready.
A LITTLE BIT OF BALANCE
It’s well known that pederasts are insatiable predators. When they discover one because a victim breaks their silence, right away others dare to come forward and tell how they were also abused by that same person. I’ve taught classes in a school for several years to hundreds of children. Never has there been another case where anyone has observed even any remotely improper behavior from me. Only Juan Cuatrecasas.
A series of disastrous coincidences have led me to my current situation: a family that has made their way of life out of this case (Juan’s father has seen his way to becoming a member of congress in Spain facilitated by skillfully exploiting victim status in this case); a judge from the Court in Bilbao who convicted me without proof; a psychiatrist and former member of ETA who played a key role in my trial; a poorly-advised Pope who trusts those who are untrustworthy (and for the record, I pray for the Pope daily).
Everyone who has in any way supported me has ended up discredited, from Judge Marchena, who was the presiding judge at the sentencing of the Supreme Court, to the current Archbishop of Burgos, Mario Iceta. Opus Dei as an institution, Gaztelueta College, and Silverio Nieto have had still worse luck. To all of them, for their integrity and for their support, I am very grateful; also, to the current Bishop of Bilbao, Joseba Segura, who received me and listened to me with interest during a long conversation. That he later called my mother to show his closeness to her for her suffering throughout all these long years is a gesture that I still remember well.
On 28 November 2018, I traveled by car to Bilbao. That day they were going to tell me if I was going to be put in prison or not. I didn’t know where I was going to sleep that night or the following nights. I carried a bag already prepared with what I needed. I didn’t know if I was going to leave the Courthouse through the front door or through the back, to get into a police van. Five years later, and I have a similar feeling. I’m facing both legal and media processes that seem endless. The final chapter—the reopening of the ecclesiastical process—entails a clear abuse of power. I am deeply disappointed by the capriciousness and injustices that I have suffered.
For years I have had to rebuild my professional life. I spent a couple of years looking for work and I’ve ended up in an area that is not my own because I fear that I won’t have many opportunities before me. I try to avoid the mass media. My family, my friends, and my attorneys keep my apprised of the essentials. I try to protect my family from all of this, because they don’t deserve to be smeared by anything that has touched me, although it hasn’t been an easy thing to achieve.
Along with this whole series of misfortunes, dozens of people have written to me, have called me, or have extended their support to me in so many ways. Although by nature I’m a sober person, I must admit that I’ve been more moved thinking about having such good people around me than about the unpleasant part of all these years. I’ve really been struck by the number of people who don’t know me from Adam—only through the media—but who still send me their support because they have seen me suffer unjustly. I think that everything makes sense within God’s plans. Suffering is a mystery, but in the end, we believers know that from tremendous evils, God can bring great good. Right now I can’t see those good things anywhere, but I continue to trust in Him.