Saturday 18 January 2020

Top German school rocked by child abuse claims

David Charter and Richard Owen in Rome

A JESUIT teacher confessed yesterday to sexually abusing boys at a top German school, further engulfing the country's Catholic Church in a scandal over the mistreatment of pupils.

Almost 30 alleged victims have come forward with claims against three Jesuit staff, saying that they were abused in the 1970s and 1980s at Canisius college in Berlin, alma mater of some of the country's political, business and academic elite.

Peter Riedel and Wolfgang Stab left the school in 1981 and 1979 respectively while the third alleged perpetrator, named as Bernhard E (70), was suspended from the Jesuit order yesterday after admitting one case of sexual abuse.

Stab (65), a former gym teacher, now living in Chile, has confessed to the allegations and last week wrote an open letter of apology, while Riedel has denied the allegations.

"The cases from the 1970s in Hanover give rise to the fear that there were similar assaults at other places," said Stefan Dartmann, the head of the German Jesuit Order, yesterday.

Alleged victims have told the German press that they were spanked or caned on their bare buttocks, often while alone with one of the men. Others said that they were ordered to masturbate in front of a teacher.

Mr Dartmann admitted that the order had evidence of the abuse cases since 1981, but had not informed parents, students or the authorities.

The scandal came to light after headmaster Pastor Klaus Mertes wrote to about 600 students who attended the school between 1975 and 1989, asking for victims to come forward.

"It was with shock and shame that I have learnt of these revolting violations that went on for years," he wrote. "Among those who had a duty to protect the victims at Canisius College, and among the order, there was a culture of looking away." (© The Times, London)

Irish Independent

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