Madeleine – paedophilia in Portugal – Casa Pia

The second item of interest raised in the 2006 article from Correio da Manhã re paedophilia in Portugal was the Casa Pia case.

Casa Pia (pious house) is an institution that for over 200 years has looked after orphans and children of the poor, providing them with education from primary school level up to university entrance level. See

The Wikipedia article on the Casa Pia scandal is at I am not a fan of this article. It does not cover what went on before the scandal broke, nor what happened after sentences were handed down. The latter, though interesting, appears to have very limited relevance to the Madeleine McCann case, so I will omit that part.

A brief summary of the developments in the Casa Pia scandal is that a mother of one of the children came forward in Sep 2002 with allegations of paedophilia at Casa Pia. On 23 Nov 2002, weekly newspaper Expresso published an interview with the mother. Two days later on 25 Nov 2002, a driver for Casa Pia, one Carlos Silvino, was arrested by the PJ. (A warrant for his arrest had been issued on 7 Nov 2002.) Other prominent public figures were arrested, including a popular TV personality and a high ranking ex-diplomat. The trial would run from 2004 to 2010.

Paulo Rebelo, he who would take over from Gonçalo Amaral in the Madeleine McCann case, was one of the senior investigators in the Casa Pia scandal, and there is more to come on that angle.

When the case broke, a number of investigative journalists ran pieces on the bits that interest me.

The BBC has this profile of 5 of those involved, at If you check the entry for Carlos Silvino, you find some mind-boggling stuff. The New York Times alleges a rape of a young girl before Silvino started in Casa Pia. The BBC says Silvino started work at Casa Pia in 1974 and within weeks there were accusations that he had raped boys on campus. From the BBC article “In 1989 he was reportedly expelled from the school, but after a two-year legal battle that went to Portugal’s Supreme Court, he was reinstated.”

That latter statement ticks one of my boxes. If a case went to the Supreme Court, it would have been reported at the time, thus advertising an alleged paedophile, and the goods on offer, the children at Casa Pia. What it doesn’t explain is how Casa Pia could be ordered to re-instate Silvino, and thus lead to the Casa Pia scandal.

The real question with Carlos Silvino is where to start. He was orphaned at age two, first went into a different orphanage, got transferred to Casa Pia, and became a Casapiana. The institution was his home and his family. This very long article provides a huge amount of background on Calos Silvino.

When he was fired from his position in 1989, Silvino did not accept the decision, and appealed to the Supreme Court. He had been fired on a number of charges, raised after a mother of a child at Casa Pia accused Silvino of being homosexual and of grooming her child. The most serious allegation is that Silvino had shared a shower with one of the boys, fondled him, soaped him, watched pornography with him, had a session of mutual masturbation, and at least one attempt of penetrative sex. The Supreme Court did not reject this, but it rejected the manner in which Silvino had been fired, finding it had not followed procedure, and thus Casa Pia was forced to re-instate Carlos in 1991. 193 colleagues had signed a petition attesting that Silvino was a good character. And Casa Pia was forced to pay the salary from when he was fired to when he went back.

This is not the beginning of the story. Carlos is alleged to have raped a boy in front of colleagues when he was but 19. He went on to become a prefect, an overseer in Casa Pia, which gave him access to the dormitories and bathhouses. His preferred age range was children aged 9 to 11 years. A written complaint in 1978 to one of the Casa Pia directors was followed up by a written complaint to the Minister of Social Affairs in February 1980.

Another Minister, Teresa Costa Macedo, received complaints in the 1980s about Casa Pia suggesting things went beyond the core of paedophiles eventually scooped up. Adelino Granja, a lawyer, complained to President Ramalho Eanes in Macedo’s presence. This led to police case 10344/81. Carlos Silvino was interrogated by the PJ and the case was referred to court in 1982. It came to northing.

Around the same time in 1982, 4 Casa Pia children were found in the house of a diplomat, in Cascais and a complaint was raised. The case went to the Tribunal of Cascais but in 1987 it was shelved on the basis there was insufficient evidence to prosecute, and the file was destroyed in 1992.

Is this all there is on Carlos Silvino? Quite the opposite. In his neighbourhood in Lisbon he was known as a helpful, courteous individual. However, at night, he was described by those aware of the scandal as a vampire, a sexual predator. He was on the end of disciplinary action in Casa Pia at least 6 times, two for paedophilia and others for abuse, bad behaviour and feuds. In 1988 he was suspended for a month with respect to one such instance. Carlos Silvino appeared to have a dual personality.

When the Casa Pia scandal broke in 2002, too many people came forward with complaints for the case to disappear once more, and Portugal’s first instance of paedophilia in an institution gripped the nation. The court case started in 2004 and would be half way through when Madeleine McCann disappeared in May 2007.


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