Law firm rejects criticism

Law firm rejects criticism

Symbolic image: Documents on a desk © JARIRIYAWAT (shutterstock)

A new round in the dispute over an abuse report for the Archdiocese of Cologne: the Munich law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl is pressing for publication of its study, while the Archdiocese of Cologne is sticking to its "no".

WSW on Friday again rejected the criticism of the archbishopric and offered to publish the investigation exclusively on its own homepage. The archdiocese of Cologne would not incur any liability risks as a result: "We bear sole and full responsibility for this."

The archdiocese rejected this strictly. The WSW report on possible misconduct by diocesan officials in dealing with cases of sexualized violence has methodological flaws and is unlawful, a spokeswoman said in response to a question. Therefore, the archdiocese could not agree to a publication.

WSW accuses criminal lawyer Jahn of methodological deficiencies

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne had commissioned the report from WSW, but did not allow it to be published as initially planned. For the reason the archbishopric cites above all a 22-page expert opinion of the Frankfurt criminal lawyer Matthias Jahn, which certifies WSW among other things methodological deficiencies. Woelki therefore commissioned a new expert, Cologne criminal law expert Bjorn Gercke, to present his findings by 18. March is to present. This decision is criticized from many sides, in part strongly.

WSW, for its part, accused Jahn of methodological shortcomings and regretted that it had not been able to comment on his criticism either before publishing his objections in the fall or during subsequent presentations. Jahn accuses the Munich office, among other things, of having picked out only 15 allegedly serious cases from the 189 personnel files evaluated, which would not do justice to many victims. Mentioning the names of responsible persons in the case of deficiencies could also lead to civil lawsuits.

Cologne criminal law expert criticizes WSW expert opinion

WSW defended approach of limiting itself to only 15 cases. This takes into account the legitimate interest of those affected by sexual violence not to be exposed to the danger of further retraumatization. The Jahn expert opinion also does not take into account the right of possible perpetrators to "forget their deeds" as well as the necessary protection of subordinate employees of the archdiocese, whose personal rights would be violated by a public naming. In addition, WSW had comprehensively examined and evaluated not only the selected 15, but all cases handed over.

Gercke, the Cologne criminal law expert commissioned with the new investigation, had also criticized the WSW report. There are "alleged accusations with strong words, without bringing evidence". The selection of the examples was arbitrary. He announced that his team would evaluate every single one of the 312 suspected cases in total. The results of the investigation would become "uncomfortable" for the archdiocese.

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