A court in Mendoza, a city in western Argentina, handed Italian priest Nicola Corradi, 83, a 42-year sentence and Argentine priest Horacio Corbacho, 59, a 45-year sentence for acts at the Antonio Provolo Institute for Deaf and Hearing Impaired Children.

A third defendant, Armando Gomez, the institution’s gardener, was given an 18-year sentence.

All three were arrested in 2016 and accused of 25 acts of aggravated sexual abuse, abuse and corruption of minors between 2004 and 2016. The victims of the abuse are 10 former students.

Several other staff at the school were taken into custody after the abuse allegations came to light in 2016. The scandal caused the institute to shut down.

During the trial, the defendants pleaded innocence and asked the trial to be annulled, saying the students’ stories were improbable.

Outside the court, a group of young people awaited the ruling with banners supporting the victims.

Vatican under fire

The case has raised questions about how quickly Pope Francis, a native of Argentina, acted to deal with sexual abuse complaints.

The Vatican had known about Corradi since at least 2009 when 69 students of the sister Antonio Provolo Institute in Verona, Italy, went public with accusations of abuse, using the names of 24 priests. After ordering an investigation, the Vatican sanctioned 24 of the accused, though none of the cases went to trial.

Corradi was apparently not among the sanctioned in Italy. Many in Argentina asked why Francis didn’t remove Corradi, the director of the institute, from his post after the allegations in Italy.