Swiss social worker admits mass sexual abuse: prosecutors

1st February 2011, Comments 0 comments

Swiss authorities said on Tuesday that a social worker had admitted sexually abusing at least 114 young people or children over nearly three decades, during an investigation into abuse at care homes.

After some 50 rounds of questioning over several months, prosecutors in the Swiss canton of Berne accused the 54-year-old of committing abuse, including on a one year-old child, over the course of a career in nine institutions.

"The man has so far confirmed 114 cases of abuse. In eight other case he says they were attempts. We have to assume that there are at least 120 victims today," police inspector Gabriele Berger told a news conference in Berne.

"We cannot rule out that in the course of the investigation more case will emerge but we believe that most of the victims are known today.

"The man describes himself as a pedophile, he explained that he was aware of his misdemeanours for decades," Berger said.

One of the homes was in Germany, the rest were mainly in the Berne region.

The investigation began nearly a year ago after two handicapped young men in a care home told their parents that they had sexual contact with a member of staff, prosecutors said in a statement.

Legal proceedings were only started on 33 cases, since the rest were covered by a statute of limitations because they happened too long ago, prosecutors said in a statement.

Most of the alleged victims were young men and women who were mentally or physically disabled, as well as the children of other staff in the institutions, authorities said.

Berger said many of the victims could not express themselves verbally, and were in permanent residential care.

Prosecutors revealed that the man had been under investigation in connection with a case in 2003 involving a 13 year-old disabled girl but was never charged. Instead an assistant was blamed.

That case is now being re-opened.

More than 100 investigators are working on the case. A special commission was set up by local authorities last month to take up the mammoth task of hearing all the victims and informing their families.

© 2011 AFP

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