A church council voted in favour of forming a special committee to investigate the response to and work of the national church in the wake of accusations of sexual abuse made against former bishop Ólafur Skúlason.
As has been reported, a number of Icelanders have come forward saying they were sexually abused by the former bishop, contending that they were silenced and the case swept under the rug. Church officials have contended that the alleged victims themselves chose not to go to the police, and that the church is doing all it can to fight sexual abuse within its walls.
Vísir reports that the investigative committee, voted into formation last weekend, will be comprised of Róbert R. Spanó, a professor and the president of the law department at the University of Iceland; Berglind Guðmundsdóttir, associate professor of psychology at the University of Iceland; and Þorgeir Ingi Njálsson, judicial head of the Reykjavík District Court and adjunct at the law department of the University of Iceland.
The committee is intended to submit its findings by 1 June 2011. Róbert told Vísir, “Due to the nature of the work I think it’s likely that the committee will be using the time it has to its fullest. No aspect of this investigation will be made public until we submit our findings.”
The committee will be given unlimited access to all church documents that could shed light on whether human error, silence or active efforts to hide sexual abuse were at work, whether church officials took an active part in silencing alleged victims, and if so, who ultimately bears responsibility. Róbert said their work will be threefold: investigating church documents, interviewing both alleged victims and church officials, and finally reporting conclusions.
It is expected that the committee will begin its work this week.