IJM Guatemala Secures Justice for 12-year-old Boy Abused by a Church Leader

The power of the law was proven stronger than the intimidations of the perpetrator: The man who abused Charlie was convicted and sentenced to nearly twenty years in prison.
The power of the law was proven stronger than the intimidations of the perpetrator: The man who abused Charlie was convicted and sentenced to nearly twenty years in prison.

GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA – A man who abused a position of trust and authority in a local church has been convicted and sentenced to nearly twenty years in jail for sexually abusing and violently threatening a young Guatemalan boy.

The just ruling was delivered after Charlie* bravely testified against the perpetrator. Seated in a plastic chair facing a panel of three judges, the 12-year old boy explained through tears how the church leader had offered him part-time work in his store. On the first day Charlie arrived to work, the man closed the blinds and attacked the unsuspecting boy, holding him at knifepoint and threatening to kill his family if he told anyone about the violent sexual assault.

The horrific abuse continued for a year, until another church leader grew suspicious. Desperate for someone to trust, Charlie confided in the man and then told his own parents. Finally, Charlie did not have to suffer alone. Doctors Without Borders treated Charlie immediately, then referred the case to IJM.

IJM lawyers gathered evidence and worked with Charlie and his family to prepare for the trial. On the day of the hearing, Charlie's mother sat on one side of the boy and IJM Guatemala's Director of Aftercare, Delmi Ramirez, sat on the other. When the verdict was announced, IJM celebrated the victory with the family – the power of the law was proven stronger than the intimidations and abuse of the perpetrator.

Charlie's recovery from the traumatic abuse continues, but today he is doing well in school. He loves to draw and wants to be a painter when he grows up. IJM social workers continue to counsel Charlie and support his family. 

*A pseudonym has been used. Real name and casework documentation on file with IJM.