YMCA/YWCA Iceland Issues Apology Over Founder's Abuse Skip to content

YMCA/YWCA Iceland Issues Apology Over Founder’s Abuse

By Ragnar Tómas

Friðrik Friðriksson
Photo: Séra Friðrik (Screenshot from RÚV).

Following witness testimonies in October, YMCA/YWCA Iceland has acknowledged that Reverend Friðrik Friðriksson, founder of the organisation, sexually harassed boys and overstepped their boundaries. The board of YMCA/YWCA Iceland issued an apology this morning.

Witnesses invited to share experiences

In late October, a book authored by historian Guðmundur Magnússon alleged that Reverend Friðrik Friðriksson, the founder of YMCA/YWCA Iceland (a non-profit and non-governmental youth organisation based on the life and teaching of Jesus Christ), had made sexual advances towards a minor.

The leadership of YMCA/YWCA Iceland stated that they were shocked by the allegation and invited those who had been subjected to sexual harassment or abuse by Friðrik, or those who had information about such incidents, to come forward and share their experiences.

Beyond a reasonable doubt

In a statement published on Facebook and in the newspaper Morgunblaðið today, YMCA/YWCA Iceland has concluded that Reverend Friðrik Friðriksson sexually harassed boys and overstepped their boundaries. A formal channel had been opened with the assistance of two experienced professionals:

“Through this channel, testimonies have now emerged, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Reverend Friðrik Friðriksson, founder of YMCA/YWCA Iceland, exploited his respected position to overstep boundaries in interactions with boys and sexually harassed them. YMCA/YWCA Iceland hereby sincerely apologise to the victims,” the statement reads. “We regret that the organisation was not aware of the founder’s behaviour at the time, as Reverend Friðrik passed away in 1961.”

“The board of YMCA/YWCA Iceland thanks the many who have concerned themselves with the matter and have in various ways contributed to this reckoning with the past.”

The statement concludes by saying that the organisation does not condone sexual harassment or abuse, and the safety and welfare of children are of utmost priority.

“We make very strict demands on those who work with children and youth in our organisation. They must, among other things, undergo thorough background checks and receive training and education on ethical standards, child protection, and boundaries in interactions.”

In November, the Reykjavík City Council voted to remove the statue of Séra Friðrik from downtown Reykjavík and put it into storage.

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