Thursday, 06 May 2010 08:04
“THERE has been widespread sexual abuse of children within Finland’s national church. During the last few weeks, investigators within the Evangelical Lutheran Church have uncovered over 20 new cases. The crimes came to light due to the child abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic Church.”
“Last week the leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland urged abuse victims to come forward. The number of alleged perpetrators in the Lutheran Church and its revival movements is 40-50, and some of them have been identified by name. They include priests and Laestadian lay preachers. According to even conservative estimates the number of victims is over 100. The charges vary from repeated rapes to sexual harassment, such as touching. It is not about suggestive language; there is a lot of severe child abuse among the cases.”
“‘This is just the tip of the iceberg,’ says child welfare expert Johanna Hurtig.
The suspects include a few priests and other church employees. ‘Youth work is an area that has the most suspects,’ says Martti Esko, director of family issues at the church council.”
“In the national church the abuser is often a church youth worker and the victim is a minor. Over ten new child sexual abuse cases have surfaced in the church’s Laestadian revival movement in the last few weeks.”