Investigation into deaths of boys in Catholic institution

16th August 2011, Comments 1 comment

The Dutch Public Prosecution Office is investigating the deaths of 34 boys in the early 1950s in an institution for the mentally handicapped in the southern province of Limburg. The deaths were reported by the Deetman commission, which is investigating the sexual abuse of children in the Roman Catholic church.

Roman Catholic monks were responsible for the care of mentally-handicapped children in the former St. Joseph institute in the town of Heel near Roermond. The investigation of archives by the Deetman Commission has revealed that the number of deaths in the early 1950s was much higher than average in the institution. This information was known in at the end of the same decade to the diocese of Roermond, the government’s Labour Inspectorate, the former Catholic Alliance for the Protection of Children and possibly to the health inspectorate, reports regional daily.

The Public Prosecution Office refuses to comment on the causes of the 34 deaths. Although it has indicated to the that due to the lapse of time no prosecutions can take place if any crimes were committed. The PPO wants to investigate what caused the deaths “with a view to the impact and extent of the case.” It is possible that the deaths were connected to sexual abuse.

Both the Public Prosecution Office and the Deetman Commission have declined to comment on how the suspicious deaths came to light back in the 1950s. The Public Prosecution Office was not aware of the possible suspicious deaths of the 34 children. It is not known whether there was a conscious effort on the part of the church or other organisations to cover up the affair a half century ago.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

1 Comment To This Article

  • Rory Connor posted:

    on 23rd August 2011, 01:35:47 - Reply

    For a decade or so after 1996 there was a witch-hunt in Ireland involving claims that the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy had deliberately killed children in their care. As in the present case, most of the alleged victims were boys and the killings were supposed to have taken place mainly in the 1950s - a nice long time ago and therefore difficult to investigate. UNLIKE the current allegations, many of the accusations related to times when no child died of any cause!! Accordingly I coined the phrases "Murder of the Undead" and "Victimless Murders" - try Googling these. (However some related to children who actually existed and had died.)

    The Gardai (Irish police) spent a large amount of time investigating these allegations and came up with no evidence to support them. I know that one current Garda Superintendent is angry at the "waste of time" caused by his predecessors actions in having ground dug up etc. Of course if his predecessor had said "This is rubbish" and refused to commit men to the investigation, he would probably have been denounced as a pawn of the Catholic Church!

    There is a summary of the allegations against the Christian Brothers at:

    Does this kind of thing differ from medieval Blood Libels against Jews??