Paris: A major French report released on Tuesday found that nearly 330,000 children were victims of sex abuse within France’s Catholic Church over the past 70 years, in France’s first major reckoning with the devastating phenomenon.Also Read - ATP Opens Investigation into Domestic Abuse Allegations Against Alexander Zverev

Jean-Marc Sauvé, the president of the commission that issued the report, said the estimation, based on scientific research, includes abuses committed by priests and other clerics as well as by non-religious people involved in the church. Jean-Marc Sauvé added that about 80% are male victims. Also Read - Saree Row: Delhi's Aquila Restaurant Issues Statement, Claims Woman Abused & Slapped Staff | Watch

The 2,500-page document prepared by an independent commission comes as the Catholic Church in France, like in other countries, seeks to face up to shameful secrets that were long covered up. Also Read - Man Accused of Domestic Abuse Attempts to Hang Daughter to Get Estranged Wife Back Home

The report stated further that an estimated 3,000 child abusers — two-thirds of them priests — worked in the church during that period. Sauvé said the overall figure of victims includes an estimated 216,000 people abused by priests and other clerics.

The commission worked for 2 1/2 years, listening to victims and witnesses and studying church, court, police and press archives starting from the 1950s. A hotline launched at the beginning of the probe received 6,500 calls from alleged victims or people who said they knew a victim.

Sauvé added that 22 alleged crimes that can still be pursued have been forwarded to prosecutors. More than 40 cases that are too old to be prosecuted but involve alleged perpetrators who are still alive have been forwarded to church officials.

The report comes after a scandal surrounding now-defrocked priest Bernard Preynat rocked the French Catholic Church. Last year, Preynat was convicted of sexually abusing minors and given a five-year prison sentence. He acknowledged abusing more than 75 boys for decades.

One of Preynat’s victims, Francois Devaux, head of the victims’ group La Parole Libérée (“The Liberated Word”), told The Associated Press that with this report, the French church for the first time is going to the root of a systemic problem. The church must not only acknowledge events but also compensate victims, Devaux said.

(With Inputs From AP)