Christian school in Switzerland accused of abuse


Central Europe


Students at the Christian School of Linth in Switzerland. Photo CSLinth

Pupils were beaten with a belt, at this Christian school. Not once or twice, but regularly, a Swiss documentary claims. "We knew that if you were quiet during the beating and didn't make a sound, it would be over after 3 or 4 hits. However, if you rebel, you will be beaten until you calmed down."

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At the "Christian School of Linth" (CSL), children are supposed to learn "to reverence the triune God". The school was established by Jürg Läderach in 1995, together with a boarding house and a free church, SRF writes. The Swiss broadcaster made a documentary about the evangelical community. Today, 48 children attend the school.

It was known that the students at school, which belongs to the Evangelical Community of Hof Oberkirch were "raised in a strictly religious manner", SRF writes. The public even speculated that they were physically punished sometimes. However, as parents defended the school and argued that their children loved it, the authorities could not start an investigation.

However, two and a half years ago, testimonies of former pupils began to leak. That was when SRF started the production of the documentary on the school.

Shortly after, the school commissioned a report in which 58 students testified about their experiences at the school. They speak about beatings and beating rituals in which they had to strip naked. In addition, the report mentions sexual transgression.


Joel W. was one of the abused students, he tells in the documentary. "You had to bend over the bed, pull down your pants and then there was a beating. I always tried to cheat myself out of my body so that I wouldn't feel anything anymore. Because it did not stop after two or three hits, it just went on and on."

The beatings were mainly carried out by the school's principal and his wife, Hans and Helga Koller, W. says. However, founder Jürg Läderach also participated in beatings with his belt, another student adds.


Helga Koller admits that she used physical violence to punish children, Tagblatt writes. “There is no excuse”, she says. “I was in that rut. Everyone knew about it, everyone took part. And corporal punishment was also preached.”

Jürg Läderach, however, denies all allegations. He released a statement that "he never hit or otherwise mistreated any students." At the same time, he regrets what happened at the school. "We should have taken decisive action years ago."

His son, Johannes Läderach, says he has experienced "the climate of fear" during his own time at school. He called the film "very stressful". "Seeing people talk about such mental and physical abuse is incredibly painful, especially in an environment that you were part of." He says to condemn the violence at the school in all forms. "This goes against everything I believe in and what is important to me."

According to Luzener Zeitung, it is very likely that the Läderachs find themselves in a difficult dilemma. On the one hand, Johannes must express himself clearly and distance himself from his father's actions because otherwise, it appears as if he endorses or trivialises the alleged abuse. On the other hand, he should be careful as he is also the CEO of the Läderach chocolate company, which will be affected if the abuse scandal becomes more widely known.


SRF writes that most of the alleged abuse is time-barred and cannot be legally investigated. Jürg Läderach is thus presumed innocent unless the opposite is proven. However, the former owner of the school threatens to press charges against anyone who claims he was hit at the school.



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