Six-year-old Fortuna Loffredo fell to her death from an eighth-story balcony in Italy two years ago. Now authorities are saying a man next door sexually abused and murdered her, and Pope Francis is speaking up about the horror of sex crimes, Reuters reports. Pedophiles deserve "severe punishment," he said Sunday. "This is a tragedy. We should not tolerate the abuse of minors." He didn't mention the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandals, but said that "we must protect minors and severely punish abusers." Italian authorities have charged Raimondo Caputo, 44, with abusing Fortuna and allegedly throwing her from the balcony in Caivano, near Naples, when she resisted one of his assaults in June of 2014, ANSA reports.
Caputo was already in prison since November for allegedly abusing three girls he had with his girlfriend, Il Corriere reports; the girlfriend was under house arrest for possibly helping him abuse one of the girls, a three-year-old. The charges of sexual violence and murder come as no surprise to Fortuna's mother, Domenica Guardato, who says she's "always been sure" the couple next door were behind it, but neighbors who knew never spoke up. Naples prosecutor Domenico Airoma agrees: "The adults were hindering the investigations," he says. "The [child victims who spoke up] permitted the turnaround." Now, Guardato says, she is "condemned" to suffer a pain "that will never go away. Because I loved Fortuna, as only a mother can, and they killed her. And still today I don't know why."