Hildesheim Cathedral at night © Mapics (shutterstock)
A Catholic priest from the diocese of Hildesheim has been suspended because of accusations of sexualized violence. At the same time, criminal charges had been filed with the public prosecutor's office. The acts are said to have taken place in the early 1980s.
A woman had reported being abused by the priest between the ages of 15 and 18 in early November. The alleged acts are believed to have occurred in the early 1980s, the diocese announced this Friday.
Request for leave of absence
According to the diocese, on Thursday it informed the bodies of the parishes in which the priest works about the accusations and the leave of absence. The accused had asked Bishop Heiner Wilmer in advance himself for his leave of absence.
The diocese had commissioned a retired professional judge, who is independent of the church, to conduct a preliminary canonical investigation, it said. It will shortly question the clergyman about the allegations and determine whether proceedings under canon law can be initiated. For the duration of the preliminary investigation, the accused remains on leave of absence.
Interview with the person concerned
The accusation against the priest had been received by one of the contact persons for suspected cases of sexual abuse in the first week of November, the diocese added. The contact person had a face-to-face meeting with the victim at the end of November, he said. After that, the episcopal advisory board on sexual violence discussed the case and recommended that the bishop investigate the allegation and place the pastor on leave for the duration of the investigation.
The diocese does not want to give further details about the case in order to protect the personal rights of the persons concerned and the priest. In the diocese of Hildesheim, there are four contact persons for suspected cases of sexual abuse who are independent of the diocese. The episcopal advisory board on sexualized violence is also staffed by external experts.