SANTIAGO – Chilean folk singer Humberto Baeza aka Tito Fernández is currently in pretrial detention on rape and sexual abuse charges. The 77-year-old artist was brought from Puerto Varas to Santiago to face trial. He is accused of abusing his role as a spiritual leader to commit the crimes.
Tito Fernández, one of the most well-known Chilean folk singers of the post-dictatorship era and an influent member of the Nueva Canción Chilena movement, is currently in pretrial detention in Santiago, facing three charges for rape and sexual abuse. The crimes are said to have taken place between 2010 and 2016, when Fernández was in charge of the Integral Center for Metaphysical Studies (CIEM) in Santiago.
The singer, whose real name is Humberto Baeza, started the CIEM as a spiritual center after an alleged encounter with a UFO in Antofagasta in 1974. It was in his role as spiritual leader of that center that the alleged abuse took place. At the center there was the so-called Tallis Lodge, of which Fernández was the “Master.” Former members describe the lodge as a cult. One of the alleged victims said she was chosen to provide “services of a sacred nature” as an initiation into the lodge.
After her initiation, the 33-year-old was taken to a separate room where she says Fernández sexually abused her. The victim says she was sexually abused several more times after that. She claims that she was also physically threatened: “Once inside the room, the suspect took out a knife and held it to my throat, making me swear once again to loyalty, obedience, and silence. He also forced me to swear to have seven more sexual encounters with him in that place, threatening me at all times with punishment if I decided to disobey him or tell what happened.”
The woman stepped forward in 2018 with the accusations and was followed by at least two others who claim to have suffered similar abuses by Fernández. The charges are backed by seven former members of center. The public prosecutor in Santiago alleges that the 77-year-old folk singer abused the fact that the victims were emotionally vulnerable at the time, when they sought help at the center. “They were trying to fill a spiritual void. It is in these circumstances that the accused took advantage of their vulnerability.”
Fernández faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the sexual abuse. However, if there is sufficient evidence for the rape charges, he could face up to 15 years. The Chilean singer, currently held in Santiago after being transferred from Puerto Varas, denies all charges.