WORLD Famed choir school living ‘ hell’ for boys
MORE than 500 boys at a world- famous Catholic choir school in Germany suffered sexual or physical abuse in what victims have likened to “prison, hell or a concentration camp”, said a report Tuesday on one of the country’s worst such scandals.
Many of the 547 victims remembered their time at the Regensburger Domspatzen (“Cathedral Sparrows”) school as “the worst time of their lives, marked by fear, violence and helplessness”, said lawyer Ul- rich Weber, who was commissioned two years ago by the diocese to probe the cases.
The lead investigator criticised senior church figures for failing to do enough to prevent the abuses at the boarding school in the Bavarian town of Regensburg – among them former choirmaster Georg Ratzinger, 93, the elder brother of former pope Benedict XVI.
Mr Weber also criticised foot- dragging in clearing up the scandal by Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, 69, the former bishop of Regensburg. The document presented on Tuesday was Mr Weber’s final report on abuses between 1945 and the early 1990s at the famed cathedral choir with a thousand- year history.
He said he had uncovered 67 cases of sexual abuse and 500 cases of other physical violence, with some former singers having fallen victim to both.
This more than doubled the 231 reported abuse cases Mr Weber had uncovered through interviews by January 2016, when he said victims had spoken of rape, sexual assaults, severe beatings and food deprivation.
Mr Weber, who was not able to speak with all former students, said he estimated the true number of victims at around 700.
He said that 49 alleged perpetrators had been identified, almost all of them teachers and educators, but that they were not expected to face criminal charges as the alleged crimes took place too long ago. The report blamed mainly a former pre- school director and his prefect, without naming them, for systematic violence that peaked in the 1960s and ’ 70s but continued into the 1990s and aimed “to break the will of the children”.
The investigator pointed to a “culture of silence” that aimed to protect the reputation of the choir of boys and young men who have made many recordings and performed around the world.