Ex-priest sentenced to 20 years in Costa Rica for 2003 child abuse

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SAN JOSE, March 30 (Reuters) - A Costa Rican court sentenced a former priest to 20 years in prison Wednesday for sexual abuse of a minor, more than two years after the then-cleric was captured in Mexico for the crime, committed almost two decades ago.

A judge ruled Mauricio Viquez, who held high-level positions in the diocese of the capital San Jose, was guilty of abusing a boy who ran errands for him in exchange for meals for his family.

"My wife and my two children have supported me. Today I felt completely free. The ghost that I'd carried since I was 12 disappeared," said the now 30-year-old victim, whose identity was kept anonymous throughout the trial.

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Viquez, who was removed from the priesthood in 2019 when the accusations became known, was also accused of other abuses from before 2003. He was only charged in one case, due to the statute of limitations on the other accusations running out.

Viquez's lawyer told journalists after the sentence was announced that the former priest did not know the victim and that he would appeal the conviction.

The archbishop of San Jose, Jose Quiros, faces a civil charge for allegedly covering up Viquez's abuse.

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