A long-awaited 800-page report on sexual violence committed by clergy and laymen in Germany’s top Cologne diocese found 202 alleged perpetrators of sexual assault and 314 victims between 1975 and 2018, it was revealed on March 18.
The independent report was commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church.
“More than half of the victims were children under the age of 14,” said Bjoern Gercke, a lawyer mandated by the Church. Gercke said the findings show “that for decades, apparently no one dared to report such cases.”
The investigation appeared to clear Cologne’s Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki – a conservative who long stood in the way of reform – of breach of duty over the documented abuse. The allegations appear to mostly cover the tenure of Cardinal Joachim Meisner, who died in 2017 and was Woelki’s predecessor, according to an item at DailyMail.com.
Months of protests had been mounted against Woelki for his refusal to allow publication of an earlier report on abuse by priests in his diocese. He had cited a right to privacy for those accused in the report, put together by a Munich law firm, and what he called a lack of independence on the part of some researchers.
His handling of the situation was labeled “a disaster” as recently as February by German bishops’ conference President Georg Baetzing. Woelki said he was suspending two Cologne Church officials immediately as a result of the report. He said bishop Dominikus Schwaderlapp and the head of a diocese court, Guenter Assenmacher, had participated in a “cover-up” of abuse cases.
Woelki vowed to take more concrete measures next week after he has read the full report. He was first handed the report during the press conference on Thursday when the findings were announced.