A three-judge panel will rule Friday whether a Catholic priest defrauded a 76-year-old woman of her home in the rural Sinincay community, north of Cuenca. In addition to the priest, three others are accused in the case, including a former notary.
According to her attorney, Ericka Peralta, Angelita Carabajo turned to her priest, identified as Angel L.B., in 2013 for help due to a disability and lack of education. Instead of providing assistance, Peralta says, the priest took Carabajo to a notary where she was persuaded to sign documents selling her home to one of the accused for $9,000, far less than the property’s fair value.
Peralta says Carabajo bought the house years earlier from money she earned as a servant. “The sale was an act of deceit by the priest and his friends and took advantage of Angelita’s lack of legal knowledge and her physical condition,” said Peralta, who is handling the case pro bono. “The priest also took advantage of Angelita’s strong belief in the Catholic faith and her trust in its practitioners. She blindly trusted him and has paid dearly for it.”
Carabajo was left homeless after the sale, Peralta says, and lives today in a wooden lean-to that lacks plumbing and electricity. Photos of her living arrangements were displayed in court.
Friends testified that Angel L.B., a priest with the Salesian order, also took money from Carabajo, and asked them to provide support for her after she lost her home. “The priest left Angelita as a creature of the streets after the deal,” said Julia Guamán, a Sinincay neighbor.