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Over 4,800 children abused by members of Portugal’s Catholic Church

Lisbon, Feb 13 (EFE).- An independent investigation into child sexual abuse in Portugal’s Catholic Church has said it had identified over 4,800 victims but warned that the real number was likely much higher.

Child psychiatrist Pedro Strecht presented the commission’s final report Monday, saying he hoped it would serve to end the “silence, shame, fear and blame” shrouding the scandal.

The commission conducted interviews with over 500 victims of child sexual abuse, whose testimonies allowed investigators to identify at least 4,815 victims since 1950.

Strecht warned that the estimated total was the “absolute minimum.”

The commission has sent just 25 documented cases to prosecutors as the vast majority do not fall within the statute of limitations, prompting calls for it to be extended to 30 years.

Most of the documented cases of abuse were carried out between the 1960s-90s.

The commission is also working on a list of perpetrators who are still active in the Church which will also be passed on to prosecutors in the coming weeks.

Strecht called for the findings to bring about change in the Church. He presented the commission’s report in the presence of Catholic officials including Manuel Clemente, Metropolitan Patriarch of Lisbon and Jose Ornelas, the Bishop of Leiria-Fátima.

The investigation found that an overwhelming majority of the victims were abused more than once and around a third suffered repeated abuse for at least a year with some cases extending up to seven years.

Most of the abuse was committed on children between 10 and 14 years of age. Some 77% of victims never brought their cases against the Church with just 4% turning to legal proceedings.

Almost all the abuse was committed by men, 77% of whom were priests, the report found.EFE


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