Erfurt Cathedral and Severi Church © Roger Hagmann (KNA)
Shortly before Christmas, the diocese of Erfurt had filed criminal charges against one of its priests – for sexual abuse of children. The public prosecutor's office in Muhlhausen has now discontinued the preliminary proceedings against him.
"Our examination revealed quite quickly that the acts were time-barred, largely already in GDR times," press spokesman Dirk Germerodt said Tuesday in response to a query. The retiree is accused of having sexually abused a minor several times between 1962 and 1965 in today's Kyffhauser district. He denies the allegations.
Regardless of the decision of the public prosecutor's office, the church investigation will continue, confirmed diocese spokesman Peter Weidemann. The ied conditions against the priest continue to apply. Until further notice, Bishop Ulrich Neymeyr had forbidden the defendant to have contact with minors. He is also not allowed to lead services or administer sacraments.
The alleged victim had reported to one of the commissioners of the diocese of Erfurt, who examine suspected cases of sexual abuse of minors.
"I'm responsible for that"
Until then, according to the current diocese management, no suspicious cases against the accused priest had been known. Outside the personnel file, however, a 1989 memo from Hans-Reinhard Koch, then in charge of personnel and later an auxiliary bishop, had been found documenting accusations that the priest had exhibited "homosexual behavior toward young people". At that time, according to the current amption of the diocese, it remained with admonitions, because the accused had denied the acts.
Bishop Joachim Wanke, who was in charge at the time, admitted mistakes: "I wish the allegations had been investigated as carefully then as they are today." Then he would possibly have had to draw other consequences. "I have to answer for that," says the former bishop.