The president of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church on Wednesday estimated at least “3,000” the number of victims in France since 1950.
At least 3,000 victims and 1,500 attackers: a first assessment of the extent of pedagogy in the church in France since 1950 was released on Wednesday, June 17, by the Sauvé Commission, which must continue its work until the autumn of 2021.
“This is the first time” such an estimate has been made in France, explained Jean-Marc Sauvé, President of the Commission, to AFP after announcing these estimates during a video conference.
Consistent with the associations, he said he was “intimately convinced that there were many more victims”, citing “several thousand”.
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These preliminary figures come from an initial investigation of investigations conducted in the archives for dioceses and religious assemblies by the Independent Church Sexual Abuse Commission (Ciase), which was set up in 2018 by the bishop after several scandals. .
At the same time, he received the call platform for testimony that the Commission set up “5,300 calls a year ago,” he said, adding that some people would probably contact him several times. .
The difficulty, he explained, is to see if these two sources – platform talks and investigative work – could “combine”. These numbers “do not overlap but can be divided,” he said.
Request for extension of evidence until 31 October
“We may be afraid that the actual number of victims during the period in question is two, three or four times higher because some do not report,” added Véronique Margron, president of religious men and women’s conferences (sisters, brothers, etc.), who fund Ciase’s work with the bishop. “It is necessarily a low judgment,” she said, “which depends on Ciase and its rigorous scientific method.”
François Devaux, co-founder of the La Parole Libéré Victims Association, praised for his part “an exceptional job that has never been so successfully performed in France”. “How about the” black number “of all those we ignore in this quantification work?”, He added.
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“You have to take this number with a pair of tweezers. In my opinion, one of four or five victims speaks,” said Olivier Savignac, head of another victim association.
This information is still preliminary to the extent that Ciase’s work continues: the request for testimony from victims is extended until October 31, and investigations into the archives are still ongoing.
Other work that is interrupted during containment, such as hearing sacrifices or public meetings in several large cities, will also resume.
Conclusions are expected in the autumn of 2021
To complete its strategy, Ciase, whose conclusions and recommendations are expected in the fall of 2021, is also in the process of gathering a selection of priests and religious “abusers”. For Jean-Marc Sauvé, “in many cases we have had addicts who have personally created a real abuse system”. Since 1950, the number of perpetrators of sexual abuse in the church cannot be “less than 1,500,” he added.
Two-thirds of sexual abuse occurred in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, said Ciase president, who has also made 25 reports to the prosecutor.
These figures are unpublished. The Bishop’s Conference had published some statistics, but referred to more limited fields and a very new period.
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In October 2018, it was pointed out that of 15,000 French priests, ten were under investigation and four others were imprisoned for pedagogy. She also noted that 220 people had come to the diocese, to the listening cells that welcomed victims, between 2010 and 2016 and 211 between 2017 and 2018.
“We get help and are inspired by the work of our predecessors,” said Jean-Marc Sauvé, referring to Ireland, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, among others. Authorities responsible for investigating their clergy, following the disclosure of scandals, have shown that sexual offenses have been committed on a large scale.