Mass sex abuse alleged at German choir school

Mass sex abuse alleged at German choir school


norman lebrecht

January 09, 2016

More than 200 boys were subjected to beatings, starvation and rape over a period of 40 years at the Regensburger Domspatzen choir school in Bavaria, according to a lawyer investigating the allegations on behalf of the Roman Catholic diocese.

Ulrich Weber told a press conference: ‘I have 231 reports of physical abuse.’


The school choir was directed by Pope Benedict’s elder brother, Georg Ratzinger, from 1964 to 1994. Ratzinger has said the matter was ‘never discussed’ during his time as director.

(agency reports)



  • Gerhard says:

    You write that there is no suggestion that Georg Ratzinger Knew about the abuse. Quite in the contrary there are very strong suggestions of this:

  • Thomas says:

    Mr. Lebrecht, you are not helping with your hyperbole and sly headlines.

    The facts, horrible enough:

    The years researched were 1953 until 1992.
    231 documented cases of physical violence – some, but not all, sex abuse – over 40 years.
    That’s almost six cases per year. One beating or abuse of a child every other month. Horrible, but is that “mass sex abuse”? Please put it a notch down.

    About 60 documented cases of sexual abuse, mostly petting, but also a few rapes.

    Every case is a case too much and it would be reasonable to assume a substantial dark figure, particularly for the sexual abuse cases, since contrary to physical beatings, victims of sexual abuse are shamed much more about it.
    It was systematic, a system of fear was established at least in the earlier years, it needs thorough investigation and consequences.

    The shameful practice of covering the offenders by the Catholic Church must stop.

    Here is the original report of the investigation.äch-1.pdf

    • Jewelyard says:

      No, Norman should absolutely not “put it a notch down.” This is disgusting behavior and one case is too many. This is indeed mass sex abuse. Nothing sly or misleading in Norman’s headline. This is horrific.

    • Eddie Mars says:

      So you’re prepared to close your eyes to it, if it’s “just six cases per year”????

      Astounding, and wrong.

      • Thomas says:

        Closing my eyes? WTF are you talking about? Can you read?
        Six cases per year of physical beating in a Catholic school in the 1950s to the mid 70s is certainly horrible, despicable, but not “mass sex abuse”, simply not. Physical punishment was quite common unfortunately back then.
        We are supposedly educated and intelligent people, we do not need to bastardize language in order to talk about a systematic crime.

        • Eddie Mars says:

          [[ Horrible, but is that “mass sex abuse”? Please put it a notch down.]]

          Your own vile words.

          • Thomas says:

            Learn English before foolishly jumping to misunderstandings.
            ‘Putting it a notch down’ is definitely not synonymous with closing ones eyes.
            Why do I even have to defend myself against such ankle biting from a dyslexic.

          • Eddie Mars says:

            How many rapes is enough for you, Thomas? And don’t tell me to learn my own language, you repulsive paedophile.

          • Thomas says:

            Is this a social studies experiment or a hidden camera type of thing? Eddie, you are for sure not real. Nobody can be that obtuse. Having fun playing the village idiot? I think you should tone down your acting of someone who lost all his marbles to a more believable level.
            The internet is full of surprises.

          • John says:

            Edward, please do not describe users of the website as being paedophiles. It is disgraceful, rude and unnecessary.

            Thomas made a controversial, but relevant, comment. It is a shame you lack the capacity to discuss it like an adult.

  • Nick says:

    60 cases of molestation and/or rape over whatever period is utterly disgusting. It points to sanctioned abuse of the worst kind. To suggest otherwise is sadly quite pathetic! “Put it a notch down.” Utterly shameful and disgraceful!

    • Eddie Mars says:

      Entirely agreed.

    • Thomas says:

      No, my request is entirely rational and reasonable, while your ad hominem attempt at shaming is not.
      Clearly this subject makes people’s blood boil, but even more so we need a rational climate, otherwise just forget about a discourse, it would be a waste of time and doesn’t help the victims a bit.

      60 – so far – documented cases of molestation including some rapes is 60 too much, I said that already. In the 50s and 60s – when most of the documented cases happened – physical violence in primary education was unfortunately still a worldwide sanctioned phenomenon in certain regressive and structurally sexually repressive entities like the Catholic church.

      I still stand by by comment, that “mass sex abuse” is a terminology that is not proportionate to the crime and exonerates the victims of such even bigger crimes against humanity in recent history.
      The Japanese crime of enslaving more than 200.000 women in Korea and other occupied nations as sex slaves for the army would fit that description. Or the hundreds of thousands of German women (to stay in the country of the Regensburg case) who were raped systematically by Soviet soldiers (about 600.000 cases) or American soldiers (about 180.000 cases) at the end of the war, those are “mass sex abuse” cases IMO.

      A reasonable wording would be “systematic violence and sex abuse”, “mass sex abuse” is just attention grabbing on the back of the victims IMO, another abuse, polemically speaking.

      • Hilary says:

        Thomas, you’re right. “mass” has different implications. This isn’t about minimising the horror, simply deploying the correct language.

      • Nick says:

        I appreciate the desirability of discourse, but equating the issue of the number of sex slaves during war time has nothing to do with the number of sexual molestation cases by those in charge of young children’s care and welfare, in my view. How does one define “mass”? There is no one criterion. In this case, the term is used both acceptably and wisely.

        • Thomas says:

          “acceptably” – we can agree to disagree.
          “wisely” – definitely not, since wisdom would require an empathetic use of words, not abusing it as a click bait generating “mass sex abuse” tabloid headline. Do not forget that this blog is there for profit.
          What happened to basic human values like respect and decency?

  • Beaumont says:

    Sounds like an average English public school.

  • R says:

    How much has the Vatican got in its coffers?

    • Thomas says:

      More than enough, even if the brother of the previous pontifex should turn out to have been involved actively, which would raise the hush up price substantially.

  • Larry W says:

    Norman, your sly headline, which includes the word “alleged” has given ammunition to all the Doubting Thomases who would dismiss your story as hyperbole. To be fair, these abuses must reach a critical mass of at least 250 before they are worthy of mention. And, did these “mass abuses” happen only during mass? The apologists require clarity!

    • Thomas says:

      The infantile, retarded even, mindset of a huge mass of people- I believe mostly from the anglo-american world, at least that’s how it appears to me – unable to think outside of black and white, unable to differentiate and graduate, unable to use proportionate vocabulary, is scary.
      And this is a classical music blog, supposedly frequented by above average intelligent people!

      Is it their TV consumption that ate their brains? Or the Hollywood enforced cliché of good guys vs bad guys? Or the cartoons? Or is it religion? Or their two-party dictatorship? Or their brainwashing by out of proportion advertisement language from early childhood on?
      A little bit of all of them?

      I have over the years had many discussions with people from all over the world, smart and not so smart.

      But I too often can tell the American apart, by saying: “So you have said that you don’t like white, so why do you support black?” It’s quite fascinating, in a horrific way.

  • Alexander says:

    There was a snide remark above when somebody compared this with conditions in English public schools during the same period, but it’s actually a valid point. I would, however, extend it beyond English public schools, and would suggest closer examination of practices in Anglican (and other) institutions during this period. Harsh regimes of corporal punishment persisted in many schools (state and private, including, but not limited to, Anglican and Catholic) well into the 1980s and even into the 1990s in some rare instances. I know that sexual abuse has certainly not been unknown in the Church of England’s cathedral choirs (and, of course, parish church choirs). I suspect that the scale is probably simply currently unknown. If you extend this to the many schools in this country that are Anglican in foundation and character (including the vast majority of the public schools and many prep schools, and even a lot of state schools), I think anyone will find that child abuse of all kinds has been endemic in British society over a very long period. That is, of course, not to say that the appalling events in Regensburg should not shock us, as indeed they do, but I think we must face the fact that what happened there is probably not too dissimilar to what has also happened in many similar institutions in our own country and in our own established Church.

  • Hilary says:

    The former music director of Regensburg Cathedral Boys’ Choir, Georg Ratzinger, has referred to the investigation of the abuse scandal as “nonsense”. He claims to know nothing about the claimed abuses, although new victims are still coming forward.

    • Gerhard says:

      According to press reports, he used the word “Irrsinn”, which better translates as ‘madness’. Strange comment from a man who lead this institution for decades and claims not to have known anything. Yet by now at least he should have learned something about the facts that miseriously escaped him at the time. And still he has nothing better to say even today …