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Catholic Church in Switzerland still dealing with abuse claims

Standing up against abuse: victims have come forward in numbers in recent years. Keystone

Some 250 cases of sexual harassment within the Catholic Church in Switzerland have been reported since 2010, according to media reports. A sizeable number involve abuse cases against adults.

This content was published on January 7, 2018 - 16:10
swissinfo.ch and agencies

The information was first revealed on Wednesday on local radio station Rhône FM, and was reported again in several Sunday newspapers.

According to Le Matin Dimanche, which followed up on statistics released by the Conference of Swiss Bishops, some 10% of the 250 incidents have taken place since 2010; the rest date back as far as 1950.

+ Read about the establishing of a compensation commission for victims in 2017

Some 143 cases involve children and adolescents, while 88 concern abuse of adults, the paper says. These latter include allegations ranging from inappropriate touching to rape. Slightly more women were affected than men.

The paper reported several examples. In one case, a woman visiting her priest for comfort during a difficult period was sexually aggressed and eventually became pregnant as a result. The priest convinced her to have an abortion.

At least 100 of the cases involved such serious cases.

About 60 others fall into what could be termed a “gray zone”, said the paper: for example, inappropriate gestures or innuendo, such as a priest approaching a church administrator from behind and stroking his back and asking him what he was doing that evening.

For incidents involving adults, internal investigations are organised; the church does not systematically alert the police or courts, leaving this decision to the victim.

Since 2014, however, the Bishops’ Conference ruled that religious authorities must immediately inform the police when a case comes up of abuse of a minor.

The church claims that none of the recent cases – i.e. those that are not too old to be prosecuted – involve children.

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