Former Chilean priest found guilty of sex abuse and rape

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A former priest and top aide to Santiago's archbishop was found guilty on Wednesday of repeated sexual abuse and rape, the result of 2018 scandal that ensnared multiple high-ranking members of the Chilean Catholic Church.

The prosecutor's office said on Twitter that it had secured the conviction of former priest Oscar Munoz, "for crimes of repeated rape, sexual abuse and repeated sexual abuse of those who were minor victims."

Munoz's case was one of the most high-profile in a wave of sex abuse scandals that rocked the Catholic Church after Pope Francis visited Chile in 2018. The scandal led to the departure of the archbishop of Santiago and other priests accused of carrying out or covering up abuses against minors.

Chilean authorities also launched a wide-ranging investigation and raided multiple bishoprics. Munoz was one of the first priests to be imprisoned from the scandal.

Munoz turned himself into ecclesiastical authorities in 2018 and faced expulsion from clerical life a year later. He then faced a criminal investigation and the public ministry is now requesting a prison sentence of 30 years and one day for Munoz.

In May, a local court rejected the dismissal requested by the former Archbishop of Santiago, Ricardo Ezzati, accused of concealing Munoz's crimes.

Former Chilean priest Fernando Karadima, another key figure in the sex abuse scandal, died last year without being prosecuted because the statute of limitations had expired.

(Report by Fabián Andrés Cambero and Natalia Ramos; Writing by Alexander Villegas; Editing by Bill Berkrot)