Catholic church poised to compensate victims of sex abuse by Swiss priests

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Catholic church poised to compensate victims of sex abuse by Swiss priests

The Catholic church in Switzerland has set up a new commission charged with awarding compensation to victims of historic sex abuse by Swiss priests.


Last December the Swiss Bishops Conference (SBK) announced it had created a 500,000 franc reparations fund to pay compensation to sex abuse victims who no longer have the right to seek redress in court since the statute of limitations has passed. 
In 2010 the Catholic church finally acknowledged responsibility for numerous cases of sexual molestation by priests that had earlier come to light. 
Between 2010 and 2015, 223 victims informed the church authorities of cases of abuse that took place between 1950 and 1990.
Of those, 49 were children aged under 12 at the time of the abuse. 
The figures also reveal how widespread the abuse was, with 204 perpetrators recorded in the same period. 
The new six-member commission will study requests for compensation, awarding up to 20,000 francs in the most serious of cases, reported news agencies on Tuesday.
Speaking to ATS, Joseph Bonnemain of the SBK said anyone wishing to apply for compensation should get in touch with their diocese in the first instance, which will study the request and then pass the information to the new commission. 
Despite the widespread nature of the abuse, to date only a few priests are being pursued by the Swiss justice system, partly because many victims do not wish to testify, Bonnemain told ATS.
“Each time the Church finds out about cases it encourages victims to press charges,” he said. 
In 2015 a report found only 20 criminal investigations had been launched against Catholic priests since 2010, compared with 172 sexual offenders by then identified. 
Numerous suspects were already dead, and others were nowhere to be found, said the SBK at the time. 
People close to abuse victims claimed that members of the clergy were covering for their colleagues. 


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