About 46 Jesuit priests, lay teachers and other educators are suspected of being responsible for the abuse, lawyer Ursula Raue told a press conference in Munich after looking into the cases at the Jesuit order’s request.
Twelve priests, of which six are now dead, and two laymen were singled out by more than one victim or witness for acts of sexual abuse, violence or both, Raue said. The other 32 “suspects” were each accused by only one person.
The lawyer added that she learned about some 50 other cases of mistreatment at non-Jesuit Catholic institutions during her investigation.
Nearly all of the cases occurred too long ago to be pursued before the courts, Raue said, adding that the statute of limitations, which currently runs from 10 to 20 years depending on the crime, should be reconsidered.
She also sharply criticised the Jesuit order, stating that in numerous cases authorities in charge of an institution were aware that abuse was going on but did nothing about it.
In common with other European countries, Germany has been rocked in recent months by revelations that children were physically or sexually abused in religious institutions, the vast majority run by the Roman Catholic Church.
The scandal has badly damaged the standing of the Church in Germany, and also of the German-born Pope Benedict XVI, five years after his appointment as leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics was a source of great national pride.