Surprising turnaround

Surprising turnaround

Until the very end, Ettal Abbey had financially supported a priest accused of abuse, helping to put prere on the main prosecution witness. Now the Father has surprisingly confessed to escape a heavy penalty.

The Benedictine Abbey of Ettal has reacted with horror to the confession in the Munich abuse trial against Father G. (44) reacts. "The fact that the victims had to wait so many years for justice beyond the assaults they suffered, and were even subjected to a protracted trial, shocks us and we are deeply sorry," Abbot Barnabas Bogle said in a press release ied Friday night. On Thursday, after the testimony of the third prosecution witness, the defendant had surprisingly largely confessed to the acts he was charged with. In return, the judge ared him a suspended sentence.

After the charges had already been filed at the end of 2010 and still at the start of the trial on 22. January, the religious had categorically denied the accusations. His defense lawyers questioned the credibility of the main witness for the prosecution and hired their own specialist for testimonial psychology as an expert witness. The costs were borne by the abbey.

Vatican proceedings

On Thursday, Fr. G. in the sense of the charge as guilty, as a boarding school prefect in the monastery Ettal between 2001 and 2005 in more than 20 cases of sexual assaults against three 12- to 15-year-old students to have committed. The religious reached into the minors' pants and fondled their private parts for an extended period of time. The confession shortens the process. The verdict is now expected as early as 11. March expected.

Abbot Barnabas expressed himself "extremely disappointed that Fr. G. Has kept the truth from us over such a long period of time". The abbey would immediately initiate the procedure provided for by canon law in the Vatican. The confrere, who has not lived in the monastery since 2010 and is not allowed to perform pastoral duties, must expect to lose his priesthood.

Victims' association: Suspended sentence problematic

The association Ettaler abuse and abuse victims considers the promised suspended sentence problematic. From the point of view of abuse victims, it is not a punishment "if someone does not have to spend even a week in jail," said the association's chairman Robert Kohler in Munich on Friday. Such a sanction would not do justice to the "need for retribution of the victims".

At the same time, Kohler acknowledged the fundamental importance of the confession. This means that it can no longer be doubted that these attacks took place. Kohler said those affected by the process had not yet contacted his association or the mediators appointed jointly with the monastery. But they should also be financially compensated if they so desired. For 70 former abused or mistreated monastery students, the abbey already spent around 700.000 euros and thus acknowledged their suffering.

Thomas Pfister, a lawyer in Munich, said that a major problem in sexual offence proceedings is the dishonesty of the perpetrators. If they denied the acts, this was always tantamount to accusing the victims of lying. A sincere confession should actually be made at the start of the trial, he said. "Otherwise, the suspicion is close that it is only tactically motivated to escape a prison sentence without parole," said the defense lawyer.

In 2010, at the urging of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, Pfister acted as a special investigator to clarify allegations of abuse and mistreatment against the Ettal monks. In this capacity, he had also briefly spoken with Father G. to do, he said. However, he said, the religious denied all allegations to him. Abuse victims of Fr. G. but had not contacted him at that time. As is now evident, it was good that the public prosecutor's office had shown "staying power" with its investigations.

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Christina Cherry
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