Thursday, February 25, 2010

Germans investigate Catholic school sex abuse

Last updated February 25, 2010 8:05 a.m. PT

Germans investigate Catholic school sex abuse

The Jesuit's Alosius Kolleg is pictured in Bonn, Germany, on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010. A sexual abuse scandal in Jesuit-run German schools involves more than a hundred former pupils. The claims date from the late 1950s to well into the 1990s. Media reported that the prosecutor's office in Bonn opened an investigation against the former director of the Jesuits' Aloisius Kolleg on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
BERLIN -- German prosecutors have opened investigations into allegations of sexual abuse at two Roman Catholic schools - the first legal action since reports of priests abusing students surfaced in January.

Senior prosecutor Andrea Titz in Munich is investigating claims of abuse against a member of a Benedictine-run boarding school in Ettal, Bavaria, her office said in a statement Thursday.

Barnabas Boegle, the abbot of the Ettal Monastery, which runs the school, stepped down Wednesday after eight former students said they had been abused by school priests in the 1950s, 70s and 80s.

News organizations also reported Thursday that Bonn prosecutors are investigating the former director of the Jesuits' Aloisius Kolleg school. The prosecutor's office could not immediately be reached for comment.

The daily paper Die Welt wrote that a student who is still enrolled at Aloisius Kolleg was allegedly abused in 2005 by former director Father Ludger Stueper. Several other alumni from Aloisius have also come out and accused Stueper of sexual abuse.

In addition, the number of students at several Catholic schools across Germany who claim they were sexually abused by priests has jumped to 150, a lawyer said.

Ursula Raue, an attorney appointed by the Jesuit Order to handle the charges, told the Associated Press that since seven alumni of the private Catholic Canisius Kolleg in Berlin first reported abuses in January, the accusations have "taken on a dimension of unbelievable proportions."

Raue said victims have identified 12 Jesuit priests by name and accused women in some cases.

The sexual abuse charges are the most widespread involving Catholic priests in Germany, the homeland of Pope Benedict XVI. Most of the cases date back to the 1970s and 1980s, and some as far back as the 1950s.

The statute of limitations has lapsed on most cases, meaning they cannot be prosecuted.

The German Bishops Conference noted that it drew up guidelines on dealing with sexual abuse in 2002. "We are not at the beginning of the discussion of such misconduct, even if we so far underestimated its scale," the conference said in a statement Thursday.

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