Was missing Vatican schoolgirl, 'molested' days before she vanished?

Was missing Vatican schoolgirl, 15, ‘molested’ days before she vanished in 1983? Childhood friend claims Emaneula Orlandi was sexually assaulted by ‘someone close to the Pope’ in new Netflix documentary

  • Vatican Girl explores theories surrounding the disappearance of Emanuela, 15
  • The teenager disappeared on her way home from a flute lesson in Rome, 1983
  • Emanuela’s childhood friend has spoken out, 39 years after she disappeared 

A 15-year-old girl who vanished nearly 40 years ago in Italy was sexually assaulted by someone close to the Pope before she went missing, according to a new Netflix documentary.

Emanuela Orlandi was on her way home from a flute lesson in Rome when she disappeared near the city’s Piazza Navonaon on June 22, 1983 – at the age of just 15.

After nearly 40 years, Netflix documentary Vatican Girl, which investigates the teenager’s disappearance, has explored a new theory focused on the Vatican.

A new theory has emerged into the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi (pictured), who vanished aged 15 in 1983. A childhood friend of the teenager claims she was sexually assaulted by someone ‘close to the Pope’ around a week before she went missing

The disappearance of Emanuela sparked a nationwide search, but nearly 40 years later, there is still no trace of her

The documentary interviews a childhood friend of the teenager, who claims Emanuela was molested in the Vatican ‘by someone close to the Pope’ – John Paul II.

The theory suggests a criminal organisation called the Magliana Gang knew about the assault and kidnapped her to put pressure on the Vatican to extort money.

The belief is that the Vatican had borrowed money from the gang to fund a trade union in Poland, where the Pope was from, which was fighting back against communism. 

In the documentary, the woman claiming to be Emanuela’s childhood friend, who does not reveal her face, claims the teen told her about the assault about a week before she vanished, The Telegraph reports.

She claims Emanuela told her she had been ‘bothered’ by someone ‘close to the Pope’ while she was walking in the Vatican’s grounds a few days earlier.

After confirming the incident Emanuela had reported was ‘absolutely’ of a sexual nature, she broke down in tears and admitted she was too terrified to speak up about it before now.

The new theory claims someone close to Pope John Paul II (pictured) had sexually assaulted Emanuela just days before she vanished

The vanishing of Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican employee, has horrified and intrigued Italians for decades. Theories around her disappearance have run rife – with some convinced the Holy See knows more about the case than it has revealed.

Some say it was an attempt to blackmail the Vatican to release Mehmet Ali Agca – a Turk jailed in 1981 for trying to assassinate Pope John Paul II.

Another theory put forward in 2012 by an exorcist said she was kidnapped by a member of the Vatican police to be used as a sex slave and later murdered.

Others said there is a connection to the grave of Enrico De Pedis, a mobster buried in a Rome basilica who was a boss inside the Magliana Band criminal organisation.

Investigators looked into the possibility that she had been kidnapped by members of the Banda della Magliana (Magliana Band) in an attempt to recover money lost by crime groups when the Banco Ambrosiano, a Vatican-linked bank, collapsed.

In 1982 Roberto Calvi, the bank’s chairman, was found hanging from scaffolding underneath London’s Blackfriars Bridge.

In August, another theory emerged which was seen to link Enrico De Pedis to the disappearance, based on testimony given by former mobster Salvatore Sarnataro in 2008, which pointed the finger at De Pedis, as well as his own son. 

Sarnataro said his son – Marco, a gang member – had confessed to taking part in an operation to follow and kidnap Orlandi on the orders of De Pedis – who in addition to being a crime boss was also a member of the Opus Dei.

According to Sarnataro, Marco was ordered by De Pedis to tail the teenager for days before he and two others took her in a BMW to Rome’s Eur lakes district, before handing her off to another crime boss who took her away.

‘I later learned that my son, for this courtesy, had a Suzuki 1100 motorcycle as a gift,’ Sarnataro said – according to transcripts newly published by Italy’s La Republica in the summer. 

According to the newspaper, Sarnataro Senior said his son passed the teenager on to Sergio Virtù, who is believed to have been De Pedis’ bodyguard. Where she was taken from there is unknown.

Sarnataro said Marco told him of his involvement in the infamous plot when the pair were serving time in prison on drugs charges.

The transcripts show Sarnataro said he did not know why his son told him about his involvement in the kidnapping. ‘I understood immediately that he was living through a period of great fear,’ he told police. Marco had died a year prior to the testimony.

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