Brazilian pastor indicted in Jerusalem over pedophilia allegations

Pastor Tiago Cardozo, a Brazilian citizen, was in Israel as part of his priesthood studies, working within the Convent of the Sisters of Zion. He belonged to the Catholic community under the Monastery of Saint Simeon and Anne, where he was a recognized religious official.

Cardozo committed sexual assaults against minors belonging to the community, according to the indictment. He would invite them to “hang out” and sleep in the monastery where he lived in the Ein Kerem area in Jerusalem.

There, he would commit the indecent acts.

A history of ‘befriending’ minors at the monastery

In one case, Cardozo befriended a young boy on the autism spectrum as well as his mother and would regularly come to stay at their home, and the child would visit him at the monastery.

The monastery includes a room that serves as a living room for hosting, including sofas, video games, and a television – something children would enjoy.

According to the indictment, the minor would come to play video games and watch movies with the pastor. During one such occurrence, when the two were watching a film together sometime between 2020-2022, the pastor repeatedly attempted to touch the boy against the minor’s wishes, including near his genitalia.

Jerusalem Church (Illustrative) (credit: I. H. MINTZ)

A week later, Cardozo offered to buy the boy a game if the minor would provide him with manual stimulation. Shortly after being rejected, he forcibly pulled the boy onto his lap and forced his hand down the minor’s pants while the other hand was around the boy’s throat amid cries of dissatisfaction such as, “Leave me be” and “I don’t like this.”

Cardozo only stopped when he heard someone approaching, allowing the minor to run and hide in the restroom.

In another case, during one of the visits to the monastery of four minors aged 12-14, Cardozo committed sexual acts on them while they were in the living room of the monastery.

The four children belonged to the Catholic community and would regularly visit with Cardozo to play video games, watch movies, and have a sleepover. During one such occasion in the summer of 2022, Cardozo came into the living room where the children were hanging out and proceeded to touch each of them in their genital region over their clothing for a short period of time.

A year later, in 2023, Cardozo came to the boarding school in Gan Hapa’amon in Jerusalem, where one of the four children lives, so as to say goodbye before traveling to Brazil. They hugged, during which the pastor allegedly purposely touched the child’s genital region over his clothing once more.

He did so to the same child once more later that same year while the two were having dinner together.

The arrest of Cardozo

The indictment claims the pastor “did all this for sexual stimulation or satisfaction.”

Cardozo was initially arrested on February 18, and his arrest was extended the following day. The prosecution asked the court to order the pastor’s arrest until the end of the legal proceedings against him. They continued to gather evidence, including through the search of the pastor’s cell phone, where they found “sexual-pedophilic content,” according to Israel Police.

The indictment alleges that the exact crimes committed by the pastor were indecent acts, indecent acts by force, and indecent acts upon a minor below the age of 16.

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