Many cases not yet time-barred

Many cases not yet time-barred

Symbol image abuse © Julian Stratenschulte

After the publication of the abuse study for the Catholic Church, five public prosecutor's offices are investigating, according to a report in "Der Spiegel". It is about the suspicion of partly serious sexual abuse, sometimes into the year 2016.

A survey by the magazine of public prosecutors in all 27 dioceses had revealed that. A group of criminal law professors around Holm Putzke from Passau had filed charges against unknown persons and submitted them to public prosecutors' offices in the district of each diocese. According to the report, the professors speak of an "unconditional duty" to investigate the "initial suspicion". "Many cases" have not yet been barred by the statute of limitations.

Appeals to dioceses

No prosecutor's office has yet seized files; only the general prosecutors in Bavaria have appealed to the dioceses there to hand over "relevant documents," it said. When asked why they are not investigating, the authorities in Ingolstadt, Munster or Mainz, for example, refer to the anonymity of the study: Neither those affected nor the time or place of the crime can be identified. Elsewhere it is said that no victims have come forward. In Fulda, one relies on the "exemplary" reporting behavior by the church itself.

Federal Justice Minister Katarina Barley (SPD) told the magazine, "There are no secret archives in the rule of law." Where there is suspicion, "all necessary" investigations must take place. "The church cannot refuse a legal clarification." The spokesman for the victims' initiative "Eckiger Tisch", Matthias Katsch, said: "It is overdue that the public prosecutors take action."

"Church cannot refuse legal clarification"

The federal government's abuse commissioner, Johannes-Wilhelm Rorig, said the state was transferring responsibility for daycare centers and schools to the churches, but was not thereby relinquishing responsibility for the children. The state, he said, "of course has a duty" to them, but has "not always lived up to it".

For the Catholic Church, researchers had presented the "Study on sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the area of the German Bishops' Conference" at the end of September in Fulda at the autumn plenary meeting of the bishops. In the church files from 1946 to 2014, the research team had found evidence of 3.677 victims of sexual assault and on about 1.670 accused priests, deacons and religious found. Experts also believe there are other cases that are not on record.

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Christina Cherry
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