THE former director of a Salesian college in Cadiz is to stand trial for abusing 12 children.

Francisco Javier Lopez, a Roman catholic priest of the Salesian order of Don Bosco, was held by police for a month in 2013 following sexual abuse complaints from up to 30 children from Cadiz’s Salesian San Ignacio College.

Judge Miguel Angel Lopez Marchena charged the priest with sexual abuse of 12 children, between the ages of 12 and 14, and 15 counts of assault.

Up to 30 students testified against the former director. The judge, however, has estimated that only 12 cases amount to abuse.

The abuses allegedly occurred in Lopez’s office when he summoned students from class or made them go to school at evenings and weekends.

Children who testified against Lopez endured verbal abuse from those defending the priest, who maintain that the trial is solely a ‘witch hunt’.

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