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German court convicts Catholic priest of abusing girls

The priest reportedly continued to have opportunities to be alone with children although officials with the Cologne archdiocese were repeatedly informed about accusations and rumors against him.

BERLIN (AP) — A German court on Friday convicted a Catholic priest of sexual abuse of children in cases that spanned many years and sentenced him to 12 years in prison.

The Cologne state court also ordered the 70-year-old to pay three co-plaintiffs in the cases damages totaling 50,000 euros ($56,000), the news agency dpa reported.

The priest was identified by local media only as Hans U.

According to the indictment, the case against the priest covered 118 counts and the youngest victim was a 9-year-old girl. The priest was taken into custody during the trial because more victims came forward and the court saw a danger of him reoffending.

The 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 although the officials with the Cologne archdiocese were repeatedly informed about accusations and rumors against him, dpa reported. An initial investigation was shelved because the priest's nieces withdrew testimony against him.

Archdiocese officials denied any responsibility during the trial.

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