Former German bishop cleared of sex abuse allegations | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 15.05.2010
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Former German bishop cleared of sex abuse allegations

Prosecutors said they did not find proof that Walter Mixa sexually abused children at an orphanage he ran in the 1970s. But they did find corroboration for accusations of physical abuse and misuse of funds.

Walter Mixa

Mixa resigned from the bishopric last month

Former Catholic bishop Walter Mixa has been cleared of allegations that he sexually abused children, prosecutors said Friday. But their investigation confirmed claims that he beat children while working at a children's home. He is also under investigation for improperly using funds meant for the home.

A special investigator, Sebastian Knott, told news agency dpa that about a dozen former residents of the home gave credible testimony regarding physical abuse by Mixa. Mixa served as the parish priest of the southern town of Schrobenhausen from 1975 to 1996, and oversaw the board which administered the children's home.

The St. Joseph Children's Home in Schrobenhausen

Mixa was head of this children's home before becoming bishop

The residents said that Mixa punched children or beat them with sticks or belts, and allegedly beat one girl until she could not stand.

Those claims will not be prosecuted because the time limit for pursuing them has passed. The abuse allegedly took place in the 1970s, when the victims were between six and 15 years old.

"He often said sentences such as: 'Satan is in you, I will drive him out of you,'" said Knott, quoting a man who had lived in the home as a child. Another witness said that beatings were sometimes accompanied by Mixa shouting "Child of God, take this punishment and repent."

Misuse of funds?

Knott said allegations that Mixa had misused the home's money could not be disproven.

"There are a few articles which Mr. Mixa had purchased, but which never turned up in the home," Knott said. The total loss would add up to about 30,000 euros.

Mixa, 69, served as the bishop of Augsburg until stepping down in April, after admitting that he had given some children "a cuff or two around the ear 20 years ago." In his resignation letter, he asked forgiveness from the victims and apologized for his behavior.

According to German media reports, Mixa has been living at a clinic in Switzerland since resigning.

Editor: Andreas Illmer

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