Nun, 80, Charged in Church-Linked Baby-Snatch Ring

'Shut up or you'll be charged with adultery,' victim says she was told
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2012 12:02 AM CDT
Updated Apr 13, 2012 1:48 AM CDT
Nun, 80, Charged in Church- Linked Baby Snatching
Maria Gomez Valbuena exits a Madrid courthouse surrounded by a jeering crowd.   (Getty Images)

An 80-year-old nun has been busted in Spain for her role in a massive Catholic church-linked baby-theft ring, according to investigators. The ring took babies from hundreds of poor or unwed mothers dating back to the 1980s and sold them into adoption, say officials. Sister Maria Gomez Valbuena, the first person to be arrested in the operation, has been charged with snatching a newborn from a young mom in Madrid in 1982. When the mother demanded to know where her baby was, the nun "told me: ‘Stop asking me that or else I will also take away your other daughter and you will go to jail for adultery,'" said the mom, who has been reunited with her 29-year-old daughter.

Valbuena appeared before a judge yesterday and refused to testify, reports the New York Daily News. Police have received hundred of complaints of baby snatchings, which have been widely investigated by the media. Catholic priests and nuns served as middlemen in the operations that also involved doctors, nurses, lawyers, and scores of clinics and hospitals, according to police investigators. In one case, a Madrid hospital kept a dead newborn in a freezer to show moms to prove their babies had died. “The nuns and priests justified what they did by saying that the child was better off with the adoptive family, but they still took the money," a lawyer for the targeted families told the Daily Beast. (More Maria Gomez Valbuena stories.)

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