Ecuador’s National Assembly has revoked an educational award to Cuenca priest César Cordero. Cordero is the founder of Cuenca’s Catholic University and the city’s annual Pase del Niño celebration. Six former students have accused him of sexual assault and prosecutors say he may be guilty of dozens of other abuses.
The Tuesday vote to strip Cordero of the honor was unanimous.
Cordero, who is 91 and in poor health, received the Assembly’s Vicente Rocafuerte award in 2010 for “lifetime achievement” in education. In April, the city of Cuenca decided to withhold a municipal decoration it had planned to award him.
Born into one of Cuenca’s most prominent families, Cordero’s father was the city’s best-known attorney in the early 20th century. His grandfather was president of Ecuador and, later, its poet laureate. Current Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera is a relative.
In addition to his roles with Catholic University and Pase del Niño, Cordero helped build more than a dozen primary and high schools throughout Ecuador. He is also credited with founding hospitals, clinics, religious radio and television stations and several Catholic charities. He earned PhDs in Lima and Paris and did post-doctoral work in the U.S. In addition to Spanish, he is fluent in five languages. Among his many honors are grants of citizenship in Italy and Moldova and residency in the U.S. state of Arkansas.
The official accusations of sexual abuse began last year with one accuser calling Cordero a “sexual monster who has ruined the lives of many young men in Cuenca.”
The prosecutor’s office is investigating and said charges may be forthcoming. Cordero denies the accusations