Exorcist priest, soldier held for alleged sex abuse

Rome, Oct 21 (IANS/AKI) Police on Friday arrested a Sicilian priest who performed exorcisms and a soldier, both accused of sexually abusing women and children.

Salvatore Anello, 59, was arrested at a Capuchin monastery in Palermo while 52-year-old army colonel Salvatore Muratore was held at his barracks in the Sicilian capital and suspended from duty.

Both suspects are alleged to have sexually assaulted several women and young girls during ‘exorcism’ rites, according to police.

Anello “insistently” groped the genitalia of several women and girls who sought his help because they believed they were possessed, investigators said.

The youngest of Anello’s victims was only 12 years old, according to investigators.

Muratore is also accused of molesting several women and girls during supposed exorcisms, allegedly telling them: “The devil is speaking and he is invoking the demon of lust.”

The arrests followed an investigation begun after two of Muratore’s child victims and one of their mothers reported him to police.

The probe led police to Anello and investigators are trying to identify other possible suspects in the case.