Father S, who was a teacher at an orphanage in Fischingen during the 1960s, has been accused of using sadistic methods and committing sexual abuse against some of the children in his care, newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported.
The priest’s main accuser is Walter Novak, who was a resident at the monastery for ten years between 1962 and 1972.
He claims that the priest, nicknamed “Boots”, tortured the children, beating them in the shower with water hoses, making them march naked through the courtyard in the winter, and even once making Novak eat his own vomit, news site Thurgauer Zeitung reports.
Another pupil who was there at almost the same time as Novak, Martin Borer, says the assertions are tantamount to character assassination.
Borer said he had been an unruly pupil himself and had received nothing but support, patience and encouragement. He described Father S as an “outstanding teacher”, an opinion qualified by the fact that Borer himself has now gone on to teach.
Borer says the claim that the priest made the children feed the pet rabbit to a snake and forced them to watch simply is not true.
The 82-year-old cleric is still a resident at the monastery. Having finally agreed to speak to the press, he says he was amazed at the accusations and that he has nothing to hide.
He believes that Novak has projected all the bad things that have happened in his life on the priest.
Another former student, who asked to remain anonymous, sent a letter to the paper saying that “the allegations are not only wrong but also destroy the personal integrity of Father S and the special services provided at the monastery's school for difficult children."
He said he would happily act as a witness for the priest in a libel case. But legal action is unlikely according to the priest, who is suffering from ill health.
“I don’t know if my health could cope with it,” he said
But Novak does not intend to let the matter drop. He wants compensation for what he describes as his “failed existence”, the total destruction of his self-confidence, and aims to bring the case to European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.