An estimate of 547 boys have been said to have suffered sexual or physical abuse in what victims have likened to “prison, hell or a concentration camp”, in German Catholic choir school said an investigator.
Allegations involving the Domspatzen choir in Regensburg, a 1,000-year-old cathedral choir in the Southern state of Bavaria, which was run for 30 years by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI’s elder brother, were among a spate of revelations of abuse by Roman Catholic clergy in Germany that emerged in 2010. In 2015, lawyer Ulrich Weber was tasked with producing a report on what happened.
The report said that 547 boys at the Domspatzen’s school “with a high degree of plausibility” were victims of physical or sexual abuse, or both. It counted 500 cases of physical violence and 67 of sexual violence, committed by a total of 49 perpetrators.
“The whole system of education was oriented toward top musical achievements and the choir’s success,” the report said. “Alongside individual motives, institutional motives — namely, breaking the will of the children with the aim of maximum discipline and dedication — formed the basis for violence.”
Many victims remembered the world-famous choir school in the town of Regensburg as “the worst time of their lives, marked by fear, violence and helplessness”, said lawyer Ulrich Weber, who was commissioned two years ago by the diocese to look into the cases.
Presenting his final report on abuses between 1945 and the early 1990s, Weber 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.
The report’s authors said that they checked the plausibility of 591 potential victims’ cases.