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German court convicts Catholic Church priest of abusing children

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By AP  with Euronews
The 70-year-old priest is led into the courtroom in Cologne.
The 70-year-old priest is led into the courtroom in Cologne.   -   Copyright  Federico Gambarini/dpa via AP   -  

A German court has convicted a Catholic Church priest of sexually abusing children over a number of years.

The 70-year-old was sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay total damages of €50,000 to three co-plaintiffs.

According to the indictment, the case against the priest covered 118 counts and the youngest victim was a 9-year-old girl.

The suspect was taken into custody during the trial because more victims came forward and there were fears that he may re-offend.

The Cologne state court heard that the suspect’s victims included a girl who complained of homesickness at a holiday camp and a girl to whom he was supposedly giving anger therapy.

The priest continued to have opportunities to be alone with children, even though officials within the Cologne archdiocese were repeatedly informed about accusations against him.

An initial investigation was shelved because the priest’s nieces had withdrawn testimony against him. Archdiocese officials denied any responsibility during the trial.

A report last year found that hundreds of children have been sexually abused since 1975 in the Catholic diocese of Cologne, while high ranking officials neglected their duties.