Fifteen boys abused by sports coach

At least fifteen boys are now believed to have been sexually abused by a sports coach in the Stockholm area as the case against a 22-year-old suspect widens.

Fifteen boys abused by sports coach
Photo: Scanpix

An earlier stage of the investigation revealed that six boys had allegedly fallen victim to sex crimes perpetrated by their team leader from southern Stockholm. But prosecutor Maria Gylder confirmed that the number was continuing to grow.

“We have found the boys by analysing different computers. There are still still some telephone numbers in the investigation for which we have not managed to trace the owners,” she told news agency TT.

The man came into contact with several of the boys, aged 10 to 15, through his position as coach of a team sport. He also approached a number of boys on community websites such as Playahead, MSN and Facebook.

Initial reports of wrongdoing came from parents of some of the boys, who discovered incriminating material on their children’s computers. The club with which he is associated has also filed a police report.

The 22-year-old suspect has been held in custody since the beginning of the year on suspicion of four counts of aggravated rape against one boy in Farsta, Enskede and Ågesta last summer and autumn. He is also accused of sexual harassment and grooming, the practice of befriending children with the intention of sexually abusing them, an activity that was criminalized on July 1st last year.

According to the prosecutor, the suspect proposed sexual acts with the boys. He also sent them films of a sexual nature.

Maria Gylder said she could net yet set a date for an indictment as a number of boys and their parents had not yet been questioned in connection with the case.


Tensions mount in German Catholic Church over abuse report

Pressure increased on Friday on a powerful German Catholic archbishop who has for months blocked the publication of a report about alleged sexual abuse of minors by members of his diocese.

Tensions mount in German Catholic Church over abuse report
Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Archbishop of Koin, at the autumn plenary assembly of the German Bishops' Conference in the City Palace. September 2020: Picture alliance / DPA | Arne Dedert

In a rare public rebuke, the diocese council of the western city of Cologne, which groups clergy and laypeople, sharply criticised Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki, saying he had “completely failed as a moral authority”.

“We find ourselves in the biggest crisis that the Church has ever experienced,” Tim Kurzbach, head of the council, said in a statement.

“Those responsible must finally also take responsibility. We need clarity now. Otherwise we have no chance of getting out of this misery.”

Woelki, a conservative who has resisted Church reform efforts, has faced criticism for months for refusing to allow the publication of an independent study on abuse committed by clergy in his diocese, the country's largest, between 1975 and 2018.

Victims have expressed anger and disappointment about his stance.

Woelki has justified his decision by citing a right to privacy of the alleged perpetrators accused in the report, carried out by a Munich law firm, and what he called a lack of independence on the part of some researchers.   

In early November, the diocese of the western city of Aachen published its own study prepared by the same law firm.

A study commissioned by the German Bishops' Conference and released in 2018 showed that 1,670 clergymen had committed some form of sexual attack against 3,677 minors, mostly boys, between 1946 and 2014.

However its authors said the actual number of victims was almost certainly much higher.

The revelations, which mirror paedophile scandals in Australia, Chile, France, Ireland and the United States, prompted Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a prominent reformer, to apologise on behalf of the German Catholic Church.

The Church currently pays victims an average sum of 5,000 euros ($6,067) “in recognition of their suffering”, as well as covering their therapy fees.

In September 2020, German bishops agreed that victims would be entitled to payouts of up to €50,000 each and an independent committee would be set up to examine complaints and decide on payouts from January 1st, 2021.

READ ALSO: German Catholic Church to pay abuse victims up to €50,000