In March 2010 the head of a Jesuit school in Germany had begun receiving allegations of sexual abuse by Jesuit teachers in the school. He contacted alumni about it, and received numerous allegations of abuse by priests
In response to this situation, the German bishops set up a hotline (telephone and e-mail) in Trier. The first day it was opened, the telephone line froze because of the volume of calls it received. It is still getting 50-70 calls a week.
The Germans, being orderly, have collected and analyzed the data from these calls in 1,100 sheets of statistics and have come up with interesting and unexpected patterns that contradict previously-held beliefs about sexual abuse. FAZ reports:
· There were 18,500 attempts to reach the hotline the first week alone.
· 90% of those calling in are Catholic.
· A third were not abused in Church environments but wanted to seek help from the Church.
· Many called in the hope that their reports of sexual abuse would help prevent it in the future.
Reports by victims indicate that:
· Only 16% reported one incident of abuse; in all other cases, there were multiple incidents of abuse.
· The abuse that was reported occurred mostly between 1950 and 1980. [my observation: this may represent a real spike in abuse or the later victims may not be able to talk about the abuse yet]
· Half of the victims were male.
But the sex of the victims varied by environment:
· In family situations more girls than boys were abused
· In church environments, including the confessional, abuse victims were equally male and female.
· The risk for boys was double in the Internat (boarding schools) whether these were church- or government-run.
As to the predators:
· Most were not young priests, but respected priests of mature years.
· The predators wormed their way into the trust of parents and children.
· The abuse was not a sudden response to passion but was carefully planned and carried out and involevd multipel occasions of abuse.
Criminologists are extremely interested in these reports because sexual abuse of children is one of the hardest crimes to investigate and prevent.
Prior to this inflow of information, all other research had shown that 25% of the child victims of sexual abuse were male and 75% female; but these reports showed that males were abused as frequently as females.
These statistics lead to a controversial conclusion:
The victims and their relatives, who have confided in the hotline, contradict these proportions [25% male, 75% female]. And more: they show a significantly different picture of the almost entirely male perpetrators. Because of the high number of male victims it is observed that the perpetrators far more than previously should be looked for in the circle of men with homosexual inclinations. It appears to these men that the settings, in which they live in constant proximity to other homosexuals and encounter children and youths from a superior position, offer a nearly-perfect environment in which they can be active as pederasts .
Die Opfer und deren Angehörige, die sich der Hotline anvertraut haben, widerlegen diese Proportion. Mehr noch: Sie zeichnen auch ein signifikant anderes Bild der nahezu ausschließlich männlichen Täter. Denn von der hohen Zahl männlicher Opfer aus betrachtet sind die Täter wohl mehr als bisher im Kreis der Männer mit homosexuellen Neigungen zu suchen. Ihnen scheinen Einrichtungen, in denen sie in dauernder Nähe zu anderen Homosexuellen leben und Kindern und Jugendlichen aus einer überlegenen Position heraus begegnen, einen nahezu idealen Raum zu bieten, um sich als Päderast zu betätigen.
The perpetrators were not young priests who couldn’t be celibate.
The typical perpetrator, as he appears in the reports of the victims, is not the young priest who acts from emotion or out of frustration, but rather a respected man of advanced years.
Therefore it will not do much good to look for seminarians with tendencies to pedophilia; the problem is with older priests.
The head of the project concluded “that in my opinion the key theme is neither sexuality nor celibacy, but control and power (Gewalt und Macht).”
The child victims were helpless:
Again and again the counselors heard that the victims as children or youths were not were able to express in words the control to which they were exposed. And when they spoke of it, the parents did not take their side.
Because of statutes of limitations, almost all perpetrators, even if they are still alive, cannot be punished.
Few of the victims have left the Catholic Church. The most long lasting damage they have suffered is problems in relationships. Sexual abuse has “often deadly consequences for the development of sexuality and for the ability to form relationships.”