After dozens of victims accused more than 30 members of the Catholic Church, a probe has been launched by the Bolivian prosecutors amid countrywide anger.
The case has sparked outrage in Bolivia, with many calling for justice for the victims and greater accountability from the Catholic Church.
The development comes as the country is reeling from confessions of abuse that were found in the personal diary of a Spanish priest who died in Bolivia in 2009 after decades of service there.
Prosecutors opened an investigation following a report by the Spanish daily El Pais in April about the late Spanish priest Alfonso Pedrajas, whose diary indicated that he had abused more than 80 minors in Bolivia, where he had lived since the early 1970s.
Pedrajas also noted in his journal that senior clergy was aware of his crimes but kept quiet.
The Bolivian attorney general’s office has confirmed that they are investigating 35 people in relation to the case, but did not provide any specific details about the victims.
Daniela Caceres, the department head at the Bolivian attorney general´s office, said that they have 17 identified victims and are taking precautions to protect their identities.
The official also said that the diary provided by the Society of Jesus in Bolivia was incomplete, with some pages skipped and some passages crossed out and erased. Bolivian authorities will try to obtain the complete document or request the cooperation of Spanish prosecutors.
The Catholic Church has also set up four commissions to receive and process complaints.
Bolivian President Luis Arce has discussed with the Vatican the need to improve controls to prevent priests with a history of sex offenses from entering the country.
In a letter released in mid-June by the Bolivian president, Pope Francis expressed his “shame and dismay” at the sexual abuse committed by the clerics and vowed to shed light on what happened.