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Priest admits sexual offences

After the former priest of Uznach came under fire for sexual abuse another priest admitted similar offences

(Keystone)

A Swiss priest has come clean about sexually molesting children just one week after a vicar in St Gallen was taken into custody following similar allegations.

In an interview with the Swiss newspaper "SonntagsBlick", the predecessor of priest Alois Fritschi from Walenstadt, who has come under fire for sexually abusing children, has admitted similar offences.

The 77-year-old retired priest is reported to have come clean after having received several letters by one of his victims.

Markus Büchel, vicar general for St Gallen, is said to have spoken personally to the priest in question. "He admitted committing misconduct. I don't know the details but I assume it might be sexual offences," he said.

The federal prosecutor, Thomas Weltert, is currently investigating the matter. However, he said that the time to prosecute some of the offences could already have elapsed.

"First we have to check whether these allegations are true, which will not be easy as we don't have any names of victims," he said.

Last month, priest Fritschi was taken into custody for allegedly sexually abusing boys in his former parish of Uznach between 1986 and 1997.

Task force

Last month, the Swiss Catholic Church announced it was forming a task force to tackle sex abuse committed by members of the clergy.

The panel, made up of lawyers, psychologists and priests, will assist bishops in preventing the abuse of children or in dealing with cases when they emerge.

However, the task force was not only set up because of the most recent cases. "The bishops have not waited for the case of the priests in Walenstadt in canton St Gallen to address the problem," Marc Aellen, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Switzerland told swissinfo.

"A few months ago the Church decided to set up a task force to advise bishops on how to deal with alleged cases as soon as they arise, what steps to take and what preventive measures can be taken."

swissinfo with agencies

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