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German Catholic Church says 66 clergy accused of sex abuse

A new study says the clergy has been accused of 576 cases of sexual assault between 2000 and 2010.

Image: Jeffrey Phelps/AP

GERMANY’S ROMAN CATHOLIC Church revealed today that at least 66 clergy had been accused of sexually abusing children and adults over a 10-year period, with most of the victims male.

The findings were part of a scientific study ordered after the Church was thrown into crisis two years ago when hundreds came forward alleging they were abused as minors between the 1950s and 1980s.

Based on dozens of expert appraisals of Catholic clergy submitted by 21 of Germany’s 27 dioceses, it said the clergy had been accused of 576 cases of sexual assault between 2000 and 2010.

Three-quarters of the 265 alleged targets of abuse were male, the German Bishops’ Conference said, releasing the report drawn up by three forensic centres for research.

Most of the cases took place between the 1960s and 1990s “in a period when a different social awareness and a lower sensitivity to the theme of sexual acts on children and youths still prevailed”, Norbert Leygraf, head of the Institute of Forensic Psychiatry at Duisburg-Essen University, said in a statement.

It said that “only in few cases” was the alleged abuse the result of an abnormal psychological condition, such as paedophilia, and cases largely reflected the rate of the problem in society at large.

“In particular a sexual preference disorder as defined by paedophilia or hebephilia was only diagnosed in a minority of clergy,” Leygraf said.

“In this regard this is not significantly different from the prevalence in the overall German population,” he added.

The study was launched in April 2011.

- (c) AFP 2012.

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