An investigation board established by the National Church of Iceland following accusations of sexual offenses within the church received reports on ten such cases last year, many of which occurred while the victims were children and have since become void before the law.
Inside an Icelandic church. The photo is not related to the story. By Páll Stefánsson.
This was revealed in the board’s recently-published annual report. Two church employees were laid off for committing sexual offenses last year, neither of whom served as a minister, Fréttabladid reports.
Gunnar Rúnar Matthíasson, the board’s chairman, said in all cases victims are advised to contact the police. However, none of the ten cases investigated by the board were reported to the police, probably because so many of them have become void.
“We are clearly still unwinding the past and I hope we are doing it well,” Matthíasson commented. He said the board does not differentiate between sexual offenses committed by ministers and other church employees. The board considers all of these cases serious.
“The violations are no less serious when they are committed by those who have other duties, such as in the youth movement, choirs and service in the congregation hall,” Matthíasson explained, adding it is necessary to be aware of the fact that sex offenders can be of both genders.
One incident of sexual offense within the church was reported to child protection authorities last year, which is not among the cases reported to the church investigation board. The incident occurred in the youth movement and the perpetrator was one of those who were laid off.