Catholic Nun Demands Impeachment of Argentinian Judge Who Granted Custody to Mother Who Murdered Her Own Son

Critics say feminist and gender ideologies contributed to the failure of public authorities to intervene to protect the boy from the abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother and her lesbian partner.

The mother of Lucio Dupuy, Magdalena Espósito Valenti (R), and Abigail Páez.
The mother of Lucio Dupuy, Magdalena Espósito Valenti (R), and Abigail Páez. (photo: Screenshot / VOA )

BUENOS AIRES — A Catholic human rights advocate blamed a general loss of values for violence committed against children, while she called for impeaching a judge who granted custody of a 5-year-old boy to his mother and her lesbian partner, who tortured and later murdered him. 

The savage crime shocked Argentina, and prompted its national Congress to pass a new law mandating all government employees must report suspected abuse. It has also provoked debate about the role that feminist and gender ideologies may have played in the boy’s murder.

In an extensive interview, 82-year-old Carmelite Sister Martha Pelloni, long celebrated for defending women and children, applauded the life sentence handed down on Feb. 17 to Magdalena Espósito, 24, and Abigail Páez, 27, in La Pampa, a province west of Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital. She called for the dismissal of Judge Ana Clara Pérez Ballester and for an investigation of doctors and teachers who knew of the tortures endured by little Lucio Dupuy, Espósito’s son, but failed to report their concerns to law enforcement. 

Sister Martha told the Register, “Courts have a responsibility in this as does the clinic where Lucio was treated, and the school. All of this must be adjudicated.” She went on to say, “As a society, we want to know why there was no probe of the mother’s drug addiction nor of the several times the boy was treated at clinics. This should have been referred to law enforcement.”

Lucio died on Nov. 25, 2021, after having suffered months of torture, including a broken arm. An autopsy found that the immediate causes of death were multiple blows resulting in a skull fracture, broken ribs and internal bleeding. The coroner also found evidence of chronic malnutrition, genital trauma, cigarette burns and other signs of long-term abuse, including sodomy. Lucio also had a leg fracture.

Members of La Pampa’s provincial legislature have moved to empanel a jury to examine whether Pérez Ballester was guilty of “poor performance of duties.” The judge granted custody of Lucio to Espósito in 2020 following a dispute with Lucio’s father. For more than a year afterwards, Espósito and Páez subjected the boy to repeated physical, emotional and sexual abuse. 

Espósito was convicted of “murder triply aggravated by family relationship, treachery and cruelty.” Páez was convicted of “murder doubly aggravated by treachery and cruelty, in addition to criminal sexual abuse.”

Sister Martha said of the pair, “They used power bordering on perversity and sadistic psychopathy while enjoying what they did to that boy, destroying him. They fostered violence that reached the point of psychopathy.” 


Contributory Factors

The nun blamed drug addiction, saying, “It is tearing up young people and families, especially in the poorest neighborhoods.” She said that official files reveal that Espósito and Páez sold and consumed narcotics that may have contributed to their psychopathy. 

But the Carmelite also said, “Because of relativism, we have sunk so far in education that we can’t control students anymore. And where do they learn violence? People laugh when I tell them it starts when a 3-year-old asks to play with the mother’s cellphone. Cellphones are not toys, but they have games sold by companies that affect children’s emotions so that they conclude, ‘How beautiful cellphones are!’ thus producing self-centered children who are ultimately tempted by violence,” she said. 

“What we have in Argentina is relativism regarding values at all levels of society. Values exist or they don’t exist. That’s not how things are: Values are real. I cannot diminish the importance of values,” she said. 

Recalling that she was in education for 33 years, Sister Martha said, “We have three generations of parents and teachers who don’t know how to impose limits on behavior because of this relativism regarding values.” 

A member of a teaching order founded in Spain in the late 1800s, the Argentinian nun is admired throughout the Spanish-speaking world. She gained renown in the 1990s for leading silent marches and protests by parents following the brutal rape and murder of María Soledad Morales, a 17-year-old student at Sister Martha’s school in Argentina’s remote Catamarca province. When police did not investigate the murder, she organized daily protests over many months that brought out as many as 30,000 people seeking justice. Finally, after eight years, the perpetrators were brought to justice. 

Afterward, Sister Martha founded the nonprofit Stolen Childhood Foundation to defend children and seek prosecution for child traffickers, pornographers, and illegal adoption agencies. The nonprofit relies on volunteer physicians, psychologists, lawyers, and social workers in Argentina to treat victims and investigate criminals. She also cooperates with Tutela Minorum, the Vatican commission created by Pope Francis to investigate the sexual abuse of children.


Gender-Based Crime?

Following the sentencing, Ramón Dupuy, Lucio’s grandfather, insisted that the murder was a gender-based crime. He told local media, “What they did is an aberration. My grandson suffered so much. They killed him out of gender hatred.” 

In an interview, Catholic journalist Juan Carlos Monedero blamed radical feminists and a violent hostility against men and boys for governmental failures to investigate Lucio’s injuries. He referenced feminists’ demand for the release of Nahir Galarza, a woman who was eventually sentenced to life in prison in 2018 for the murder of her boyfriend. 

“Feminists supporting Galarza marched in the streets chanting ‘Killing the male is no metaphor.’ This was repeated in graffiti not only in Argentina, but also Chile,” Monedero said. In some rallies, Argentine feminists also have displayed placards reading “Abort males.”

Monedero has written that Lucio was the victim of a “judicial system genuflecting before feminist ideology.” Both Páez and Espósito defined themselves as feminists, and took Lucio to pro-abortion rallies. 

Monedero also told the Register that prosecutors in Lucio’s case revealed chilling text messages between Espósito and Páez. Text messages between Páez and Espósito revealed that they worried that the abuse would come to light. 

In one text, Espósito asked, “How much did you beat him? He has vomited twice.” Páez answered: “Hey, I don’t even want to look at him. He ruins my life.” Espósito wrote finally: “It would be better not to send him to school.” 

In another exchange, Páez wrote: “I’m fed up. I have to be with this ******* all day. We can’t go out. We can’t do anything with this ******* here.”

Despite this, Páez and Espósito were not found guilty of gender-based crimes by the court. 

Mariana Gallego, a well-known Argentinian attorney, disagreed with the finding. She told Argentina’s PERFIL TV, “In this specific case, it was the most evident and obvious expression of gender-based hatred, because in their messages they talked about how, through punishment and abuse, they might be able to turn him into a woman, if not, ‘they were going to take the maleness out of him.’ The expression of hatred towards men was turned on a 5-year-old boy.”

Facing prison, Páez has asked for male hormonal treatment because she considers herself non-binary. 

Ayelén Mazzina, the lesbian Minister for Women, Gender and Diversity in the cabinet of leftist President Alberto Fernández, dismissed arguments that feminist ideology contributed to Lucio’s murder.

“The murder of a boy was used to attack feminism, even while throughout the country, with no regard to gender, we have been calling for justice for Lucio,” she told TELAM news. “I am worried about the attack on the part of certain sectors, when in reality it was two persons who murdered, abused and raped a boy, and we would never approve of something like that from feminism."

For its part, the Society for Integration of Gays and Lesbians of Argentina issued a statement expressing is “concern” over media coverage and opinions emerging from the case that blame gender ideology and feminism for the crime. The statement read, “Quick to find an excuse to justify their hatred, these opinion writers are only confusing people by taking advantage of an event that has caused social upheaval and to spread an outdated and conservative vision and discrimination against diversity.” 

Claiming the boy’s murder was an “isolated event,” the statement described concern over the Dupuy case as “hate speech” that should be censured. 

However, Cynthia Hotton, an Argentinian politician noted for defending traditional marriage and the unborn, said radical feminism and gender ideology definitely played a part in Lucio’s murder. In a commentary published at Infobae, Hotton wrote, “Currently, hate speech is widespread and many times unnoticed under the guise of supposed feminism. That form of speech, however, reveals extreme feminism, hatred, and exaggerated gender ideology that threatens those who do not accept that doctrine.”