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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 21 October, 2014

Trial begins for Austrian priest accused of assaulting 24 boys

The former headmaster of a monastery boarding school allegedly assaulted the pupils between 1973 and 1993 at the school and foreign trips.

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A FORMER AUSTRIAN priest and headmaster of a monastery boarding school went on trial today accused of sexually abusing 15 boys and physically assaulting nine others.

Prosecutors accuse Alfons Mandorfer, 79, now defrocked, of committing “sexual acts of differing intensity” on the pupils between 1973 and 1993 both at the Kremsmuenster school and on foreign trips.

The boys he allegedly abused were often vulnerable and had personal problems, prosecutors charge. He is also accused of whipping them, kicking them and threatening them with a pump-action shotgun.

Kremsmuenster Abbey, founded in 777 near Krems in central Austria, has already paid out more than €700,000 in compensation to victims of abuse at the school since the scandal erupted several years ago.

Several other members of staff were suspended in 2010.

The defendant’s lawyer said he would “confess to a large extent and apologise to the victims.” He added however that he believes the alleged abuse happened too long ago for a trial to be held.

The white-haired former priest, who appeared in court in Steyr hunched, wearing a dark suit and walking with a stick, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. A verdict is expected on Thursday.

Like in other countries, the Austrian Catholic Church has been rocked by widespread accusations of sexual abuse of minors by priests in recent years. A commission has so far reviewed hundreds of cases.

- © AFP 2013.

Read: One allegation of abuse within Catholic Church in 2012>
Read: Australian cardinal ‘absolutely sorry’ for abuse cover-up>

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