Bavaria: Public prosecutor's office requested abuse reports late

After the report on cases of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, the Bavarian judiciary is now also being criticized.

Bavaria: Public prosecutor's office requested abuse reports late

After the report on cases of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, the Bavarian judiciary is now also being criticized. The Greens see "failure all along the line" - and Minister Eisenreich has to admit omissions.

Munich (dpa / lby) - The public prosecutor's office only requested an initial report on cases of abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising from 2010, according to Bavaria's Minister of Justice Georg Eisenreich (CSU) nine years later. In the meantime, seven alleged cases of bodily harm have become statute-barred, he writes in a report at the request of the Greens in the state parliament, which is available to the German Press Agency.

"The report was submitted to the Munich I public prosecutor's office at the beginning of May 2019, following a request from the State Ministry of Justice," Eisenreich writes in the report. Seven cases mentioned there of "another physical assault (slaps in the face, etc.)" were only statute-barred in 2011 and 2013. Cases of abuse were not among them, emphasized Eisenreich. And: "In these cases, the authorized representatives expressly did not file a criminal complaint."

The Greens in the state parliament were "shaken and affected" and spoke of "a complete failure". "The Bavarian judiciary made a serious mistake here," said Gabriele Triebel, spokeswoman for the Greens on religious policy. "The law enforcement authorities should have investigated. They are legally obliged to do so as soon as there is a suspicion of a criminal offense. This has definitely existed since the report of 2010. The public prosecutor's offices should have actively requested this report and then investigated it. This error cannot be downplayed."

As early as 2010, the law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) had prepared this first report on cases of abuse in the diocese on behalf of the archdiocese, which - contrary to what was announced - was not published after all.

WSW only published a second report on January 20 of this year, which incorporated the results of the first. The experts assume at least 497 victims and 235 alleged perpetrators, but at the same time from a significantly higher number of unreported cases - and from the fact that Munich archbishops - including the later Pope Benedict XVI. - had behaved incorrectly in dealing with it.

According to Eisenreich, the public prosecutor's office in Munich I is currently still investigating "45 individual cases" as to whether church leaders who are still alive have committed themselves to prosecution in dealing with cases of abuse. According to the public prosecutor's office, the investigation of the cases is still ongoing.

Just this week it became known that a declaratory action by a victim of abuse against Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, against the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising and the former Archbishop Cardinal Friedrich Wetter is pending at the district court in Traunstein.

With regard to Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict, the complaint states that as a cardinal he "was aware of all the circumstances" and "at least accepted the fact that this priest was a repeat offender". A declaratory action is not associated with criminal prosecution, but guilt may be established.

"The church studies make an extremely important contribution to dealing with sexual abuse in the church," emphasized Eisenreich in his report. "However, they have only very limited significance for the criminal prosecution of the immediate perpetrators."

The diocese of Passau announced on Friday that it would have cases of sexual abuse processed in a study. In the course of the three-year study, around 3,500 personnel files and other files of the diocese are to be viewed in order to shed light on the abuse that began in 1945. Passau Bishop Stefan Oster said: "The findings will certainly be painful."

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