MADRID – A Spanish Catholic order said on Wednesday that it will expel one of its members, a former Atletico Madrid youth coach, over allegations of historical child abuse.
The religious educational institution Compañia de Maria announced it had started the process of expelling Manuel Briñas after completing an internal investigation.
Briñas, 88, reportedly admitted sexually assaulting a child when he was a friar Marianist in a school in Madrid between 1973 and 1975.
Compañia de Maria said it had listened to all those who came forward in the case and had asked for their forgiveness while offering support.
The religious order vowed to continue to rigorously apply the laws which have been put in place to protect minors at its educational establishments.
Briñas has also been credited with founding Atletico’s academy and was ascribed the discovery of top players including striker Fernando Torres.
Torres, who played for Atletico from 2001 to 2007 and 2015 to 2018, said Brinas was “responsible for me being here” in 2016 after scoring his 100th goal for the club.
Atletico severed ties with the former youth coach last month and launched its own investigation to rule out any abuse during his years with the club.
The club said in a statement at the time: “We strongly condemn this type of behavior. We are dismayed because during the years that Manuel Briñas has been linked to our academy there has never been the slightest suspicion about this figure.”
His case is the latest in a string of allegations of sexual abuse of minors at other well-known religious institutions in Spain.
A separate investigation is currently being carried out by the Jesuit religious company in Catalonia into allegations of abuse at its schools over the past 60 years.
The Spain Catholic Church has said it will not commission a report on possible cases of pedophilia in the dioceses of the country because it does not have the authority to do so.
However, some bishops have taken steps forward, including in the Diocese of Astorga, northwest Spain, which was the country’s first to establish a panel to protect and support local victims of clergy sex abuse.
Bishop of Astorga Juan Antonio Menendez said the panel will include a priest, a psychologist, a lawyer and an abuse survivor.
In Catalonia, northeast Spain, bishops have apologized for the abuse and vowed to seek clarification on why the Spanish Catholic Church considers it does not have the authority to commission a report into possible cases of pedophilia.