In a press conference on Friday, lawyer Ulrich Weber said that 231 of his clients were subjected to physical and sexual abuse at the prestigious Regensburger Domspatzen choir in southern Germany between 1953 and 1992. The abuse allegedly ranged from beatings to starvation to sexual assaults and rape.
Weber also said that the total number of victims could be much higher, estimating that at least every third child out of the 2,100 choir members had been subjected to some form of physical violence.
The choir was run by Georg Ratzinger, Pope Benedict’s older brother, from 1964 to 1994. The choir and its associated boarding schools were previously rocked by a sexual abuse scandal in 2010.
German composer Franz Wittenbrink, who had attended one of the boarding school in the 1960s, told Spiegel the school had an “elaborate system of sadistic punishments combined with sexual lust.” The headmaster at the time “would choose two or three of us boys in the dormitories in the evenings and take them to his flat,” he said, give them wine, and then masturbate with them.
Ratzinger in 2010 denied all knowledge of sexual abuse at the school and condemned the headmaster as a “sadist.” The diocese offered to pay €2,500 to each of the victims.