Over 800 abuse cases reported in Austrian Catholic institutions
VIENNA — Over 800 cases of abuse in Catholic institutions in Austria have been reported so far, a commission tasked with investigating abuse cases announced on Wednesday.
A total 837 abuse victims approached the commission, which was set up by the Austrian Catholic Church last year after it was hit by a wave of abuse revelations, commission head Waltraud Klasnic told a press conference.
Three quarters of the victims were male, with the most cases — about 20 percent — reported in northern Upper Austria province, followed by Vienna and western Tyrol, according to a commission report summarising its first-year findings.
Compensation had meanwhile been paid to 192 abuse victims, it said.
In total, “over 200 cases have been settled, in the sense that we’ve resolved with the victim what he or she wants, whether it’s an apology, therapy or financial support,” Klasnic, a former conservative governor of southern Styria, told ORF 2 television.
She added however that it would take several more years to process the remaining cases.
In cases concerning five Catholic institutions, the files were forwarded on to prosecutors, the commission meanwhile noted.
The group was set up in late March 2010 by Vienna’s archbishop, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, following an avalanche of allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members, but has an independent mandate to investigate claims.
The Austrian Church also announced last June that it would create a compensation fund for abuse victims.
This fund had taken care of all the compensation payments so far, commission member and constitutional judge Brigitte Bierlein said on Wednesday.
Most of the allegations of abuse go back decades, between the 1960s and 1980s.