Lawyer says 231 children abused in German Catholic choir

Lawyer investigating allegations says Georg Ratzinger, Pope Benedict’s brother, must have known about at least some abuses in Catholic choir school in Germany

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Lawyer Ulrich Weber tasked by the Catholic institution to probe allegations on physical abuse of children at a famous boys' choir school speaks during a press conference in Regensburg, Germany, January 8, 2016

At least 231 children were abused by adults working in Catholic children's choir school in southern Germany, Ulrich Weber, the lawyer tasked by the Catholic institution to probe allegations, said on Friday.

Weber said at a press conference that his research, which included 70 interviews with victims, uncovered abuse, including dozens of sexual assault cases, that took place from 1945 to the early 1990s.

"I have here 231 reports of physical abuse," the lawyer said.

"The reported cases of sexual abuse in Regensburg were mostly concentrated in the period of the mid to end 1970s," he said, adding that "50 victims spoke of ten perpetrators."

He said that the abuses in Domspatzen, a thousand year old boys’ choir in Regensburg, Bavaria, ranged from sexual assault to rape, severe beatings and food deprivation.

The school was dragged into a sexual abuse scandal in 2010, when allegations dating back decades went public.

The choir was run by Georg Ratzinger, Pope Benedict's elder brother, between 1964 to 1994.

Weber said Ratzinger, who previously denied any knowledge of the incidents, must have known of at least some of the abuses.

Ratzinger has said that the alleged sexual abuse was "never discussed" in the time that he ran the choir.

The director and composer Franz Wittenbrink, a former student of the boarding school, had told Spiegel magazine in 2010 that there was a "system of sadistic punishments connected to sexual pleasure."

The Catholic Church has been facing child abuse scandals in recent years. In one instance, a priest admitted to sexually abusing over 100 children in Ireland.

However, it’s not expected for the priests to face any criminal charges, because most of the events have passed the time limitation.

But there have been calls for a change in the law and for the church to pay compensation to victims.

In February last year, the Regensburg diocese had offered compensation of 2,500 euros for 72 victims of abuse.

TRTWorld and agencies