Jeffery Daniels left his native Peru in 2001, moved to the U.S., married and started a family, leaving behind the elite Catholic society he’d spent years with for a life in the quiet north Chicago suburb of Antioch.
Now, in the wake of an explosive report issued earlier this year, Peruvian prosecutors have charged Daniels and three other men in connection with alleged sexual abuse that occurred at the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae in Lima.
The four men have been charged with conspiracy to commit sexual, physical and psychological abuse, according to Peruvian court documents provided by attorney Hector Gadea, who represents the alleged victims.
Gadea said prosecutors have asked a judge to order the men’s arrests and detention for nine months while authorities continue their investigation into members of the organization, also known as the SCV.
The charges were confirmed by an aide to Peruvian Congressman Alberto de Belaunde, who added that Daniels and the other men — including Luis Fernando Figari, the SCV’s founder and former leader — allegedly took advantage of their “proximity to minors and young adults” to abuse followers, most of whom were young men or boys.
Daniels has told local U.S. authorities that he denies the allegations. But de Belaunde, who serves on the nation’s Commission of Justice and Human Rights, applauded the charges.
“Jeffery Daniels has serious allegations of abusing minors,” de Belaunde said in a statement, written in Spanish, that he released to the Tribune. “In all this time, Daniels has been silent and has chosen to forget. But the victims do not forget and neither will a country with dignity. In addition to ensuring that justice is served, it is important to ensure that there are no more victims.”
The announcement of the charges follows the publication of a book written by journalists Paola Ugaz and Pedro Salinas that claims decades of abuse occurred within the organization. It also comes on the heels of an independent investigation commissioned by the SCV’s current leaders.
It is unclear what, if any, official title Daniels had within the organization, which is dedicated to training lay people in the Catholic faith. But the independent investigators noted that he led boys ages 12 to 16 in Bible studies and group activities, and took them on mission trips.
In the SCV’s commissioned report, released in February, the independent investigators pegged Daniels as “the most egregious” alleged molester, accusing him of sexually abusing at least a dozen boys and young men in his care between 1985 and 1997.
Last month, de Belaunde sent letters to various U.S. government officials and media outlets, including the Tribune and the Antioch Police Department. The letter said Daniels lives in Antioch and stated its purpose was “to inform you about this situation before the Peruvian prosecutor formally notifies the American authorities of this case.”
Tribune reporters made several attempts to speak with Daniels, but were unsuccessful. He recently denied the claims to Antioch police investigators.
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