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Conservative Laestadians Confirm Pedophile Suspicions

The Central Committee of Conservative Laestadian Congregations (SRK) has admitted dozens of cases and suspicions of pedophilia and incest have come to its attention within the movement. The SRK says from 70 to 100 cases or suspicions have come to light. Some lay preachers are also involved.

SRK:n tiedotustilaisuus Oulussa 7.4.2011.
SRK kertoi liikkeessä ilmenneistä hyväksikäyttötapauksista huhtikuussa. Image: YLE

Child Welfare Researcher Johanna Hurtig from the University of Tampere says the first of the current cases date back to the 1980’s. The SRK claims also earlier cases are included.

Proceedings in some 30 cases are currently underway from the last decade. The SRK issued an internal report on the issue on Thursday.

The Chairman of the SRK, Olavi Voittonen, admitted the committee had dealt incorrectly with the issue over the years.

“Insufficient care has been given to individual victims,” Voittoinen said.

Secrecy has shrouded the cases and in some incidences the abuse of confessional confidentiality had been used to cover up matters.

Conservative Laestadian Congregations operate independently within Finland's dominant Evangelical Lutheran Church.

In the movement’s doctrinal statement, the SRK says its purpose is “to awaken and inspire Christian faith life and to promote Christian moral habits, national sobriety and stabilize a patriotic mind among our people.”

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