Paedophile priest in St Joseph Home scandal applies for parole

Carmelo Pulis, one of two priests found guilty of sexually abusing boys at a Santa Venera home in the 1980s, applies for parole midway through a six-year prison sentence 

Carmelo Pulis was sentenced in 2011 to six years' imprisonment for sexual abuse of minors
Carmelo Pulis was sentenced in 2011 to six years' imprisonment for sexual abuse of minors

A defrocked priest who was convicted of sexually abusing boys at the former St. Joseph Home in Santa Venera in the 1980s has applied for parole, Sunday newspaper Illum has reported.

If parole is granted, it would mean that Carmelo Pulis would only have spent half of his six-year prison sentence behind bars.

Police investigations into allegations of paedophilia by three members of the Missionary Society of St. Paul commenced in 2003, after one of the victims, Lawrence Grech, went public about the abuse he suffered while residing at St. Joseph’s Home. Other victims eventually followed his suit, and the scandal let to the home’s closure later that year.

In 2011, Pulis, 69, and Godwin Scerri, 78, were defrocked and jailed for five and six years respectively after a court found them guilty of sexually abusing ten boys in their care in the 1980s.

Graphic details emerged during court proceedings, with a St Joseph’s home care worker testifying that he had stumbled upon Pulis and one of the victims on a bed, with the former priest in his boxer shorts with his erect genitalia exposed and his victim lying on top of him.

One of the victims also told the court that Godwin Scerri had touched him inappropriately or masturbated him several times, despite his pleas. On one occasion, the former priest visited the victim is his room to gift him with a stereo, before proceeding to penetrate him from behind.

The two priests appealed the court’s ruling, but a Court of Appeal confirmed their prison sentences a year later.

Earlier this month, Godwin Scerri was granted parole, against a number of restrictions. The Parole Board refused to publicise the reasons behind why his parole was accepted, citing data protection restrictions. However, one of the victims told MaltaToday that the parole was granted on humanitarian grounds.

Victim angered at ‘injustice’ of potential parole

One of the priest’s victims told Illum that releasing Pulis on parole would prove to be a great injustice, and that he would challenge such a decision in a European court.

“After several years of explaining myself in court, I was asked to explain to the Parole Board what effects the abuse had on me,” the victim, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. “Don’t they already know what effects it had on me? Why did we fight for justice? For him to only receive half a prison sentence?”