Spain Charges 80-Year-Old Nun in Huge Baby Theft Ring

An 80-year old Spanish nun was in court Thursday to face charges for involvement in a baby theft ring that dates back to the Franco era.

Sister María Gómez Valbuena appeared before a judge and refused to testify, invoking her right to remain silent on charges that she kidnapped a newborn girl from a Madrid hospital in 1982, according to the BBC.

Sister María faces formal charges of false imprisonment and forgery.

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The mother in Sister María's case, Maria Luisa Torres, accuses the nun of snagging her baby girl soon after she gave birth in the Santa Cristina hospital. Sister María also allegedly threatened to take away another baby and turn Torres in for adultery when she questioned the nun on what happened to her child, Torres said.

Torres was finally reunited with her daughter, Pilar, last year.

A crowd outside of the courthouse jeered Sister María as she left the courtroom clad in the habit of her Sisters of Charity order.

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It is believed that thousands of children were kidnapped from their parents during the years of Franco’s dictatorship and afterward. The suspected thefts are believed to have started during the 1936-39 Civil War with some cases believed to happened as late as the 1990s.

The kidnappings are believed to be part of an effort to take children away from left-wing parents and give them to "approved" right-wing families.

Many parents of kidnapped children were told that their children had died during child birth.

While Spanish authorities have investigated hundreds of complaints about the events,most have been dismissed due to lack of evidence.

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