EXCLUSIVE By Jacqueline Fanchini
A BRITISH vicar has told the Olive Press how he spent family holidays with a trio of priests involved in an alleged Granada sex ring.
The Dorset-based clergyman explained that the group seemed ‘so nice, open and hospitable’ during holidays with his wife and children in the city.
The holy man, who asked for his identity to be protected, insisted the group of priests arrested ‘acted like a family’ and were ‘very supportive of each other’.
While three priests have so far been arrested, up to a dozen more are still under investigation.
The probe in the Zaidin parish was launched after one victim, abused from the age of 13, wrote to Pope Francis, who encouraged him to go to the police in Spain.
He later phoned the man, now a 24-year-old teacher, in person and has since apologised on behalf of the Catholic Church.
According to sources, the priests were said to have convinced young boys that sex with them would not be a sin.
It has been alleged that the group of 10 priests and two lay people lured youngsters in as altar boys and later took them to luxury apartments owned by the group, where they were subjected to brutal abuse.
The group, known as ‘Los Romanones’, a reference to their supposed leader, were incredibly close, according to the British vicar.
“They are a group of friends who are something like a family, and are very supportive of one another.
“If it is a cover then it is a very successful one because their shared life was very open to members of the community and visitors.”
The holy man, had first met one of them in 2009 and later returned with his wife and children for holidays.
He told the Olive Press how the group shared one home ‘where they would share meals after Sunday Mass and then spend some leisurely time together on Mondays, which was their day off’.
He added: “Quite rightly any accusation of this kind has to be investigated thoroughly but at the same time we have to remember that these people are innocent until proven guilty.
“I would be shocked and distraught if this turned out to be true.”
The group’s activities came under scrutiny after a 24-year-old teacher, who supposedly suffered abuse between the ages of 13 and 17, wrote to the Pope after his story was shunned by Granada’s archdiocese.