ROME—A jarring report outlining decades of rampant child sex abuse at the hands of greedy nuns and perverted priests in the Archdiocese of Cologne, Germany, paints a troubling picture of systematic abuse in the German church.
The report is the byproduct of a lawsuit alleging that orphaned boys living in the boarding houses of the Order of the Sisters of the Divine Redeemer were sold or loaned for weeks at a time to predatory priests and businessmen in a sick rape trade. The men involved in the lawsuit say as boys they were denied being adopted out or sent to foster families because selling them for rape lined the sisters’ coffers for their “convent of horrors.” Some of the boys were then groomed to be sex slaves to perverts, the report claims.
The alleged abuse went on for years, with one of the males claiming the nuns even frequently visited their college dorms after they had left the convent. He said the nuns often drugged him and delivered him to predators’ apartments. The Order of Sisters of the Divine Redeemer did not answer multiple requests for comment about the allegations.
The lawsuit, first reported by Deutsche Welle last year, is being led by 63-year-old victim Karl Haucke who, along with 15 other former orphans, demanded the Archdiocese of Cologne carry out a full investigation, which it concluded in January 2021. But the details of that investigative report were so horrific that Archbishop Reiner Maria Woelki refused to make it public, demanding that any journalists who see it sign confidentiality agreements. Eight German journalists walked out of a press conference in January after being denied access to the church’s investigation unless they agreed not to publish its contents.
Haucke says he was abused at least once a week between the ages of 11 and 14, often by more than one priest. “We had no words to describe what was being done to us. Nor did we know what it meant. And it did not stop at physical pain. We had a clear sense of humiliation and being used,” he told Deutsche Welle when the report was due to be released. He called the stifling of the report’s release in January “scandalous” and said that denying the journalists the right to publish the report was “like being abused all over again.”
Now, several lawyers with access to the 560-page report have shared segments with news outlets, including The Daily Beast. The report names various German businessmen and complicit clergy who “rented” the young boys from the nuns who ran a convent in Speyer, Germany between the 1960s and 1970s. Among the worst instances of abuse were gang bangs and orgies the young boys were forced to participate in before being returned to the convent where the nuns would then punish them for wrinkling their clothing or being covered in semen.
“Bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesmann, who now leads the archdiocese, said that the abuse report was ‘so gory’ it would be too shocking to make public.”
The report finds that 175 people, mostly boys between the ages of 8 and 14, were abused over two decades. But it failed to blame the nuns directly, instead saying “systematic” management errors and “leniency” for those who were accused by the children enabled the abuse to continue.