Priest Dies on Eve of His Acquittal in Abuse Case

BOLOGNA, Italy, JULY 12, 2001 ( A priest accused of child abuse died of a heart attack on the eve of his acquittal in a legal appeal.

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Father Giorgio Govoni was posthumously acquitted Wednesday, in an appeal to the Bologna Court. Seven other defendants in the case were also acquitted. The conviction of seven others was upheld to some degree.

The case involved abuses in 1996 and 1997 involving 13 children, ranging in age from 4 months to 13 years. Family members were among the accused.

Father Govoni, who was parish priest of St. George´s in the Modena region, always maintained that he was innocent. Following the priest´s death, and in order to rehabilitate his memory, attorneys appealed the case.

“He was innocent, he was loved by the whole neighborhood, he cared for two parishes, and for his elderly mother,” said a woman who is custodian for the 3-year-old child who triggered the whole investigation.

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