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Ulrich Wastl of law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) speaks during a press conference on a report on child sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising. Sven Hoppe/dpa POOL/dpa

A report prompted by sexual abuse allegations in the German Catholic Church accuses Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI of misconduct on four counts during his time as archbishop of Munich and Freising between 1977 and 1982.

Benedict – known then as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – has denied any wrongdoing.

At least 497 victims have been counted in the study. Most of them were male children and adolescents who were targeted between 1945 and 2019, the law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) announced in Munich. It prepared the expert opinion on behalf of the archdiocese.

According to the study, there were at least 235 alleged perpetrators – among them 173 priests and nine deacons.

The law firm said 40 clergymen had returned to pastoral care despite allegations of perpetrating or having tolerated abuse.

Ulrich Wastl of law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) reacts during a press conference on a report on child sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising. Sven Hoppe/dpa POOL/dpa
Ulrich Wastl of law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl (WSW) speaks during a press conference on a report on child sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising. Sven Hoppe/dpa POOL/dpa