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Belgian priest child abuse victim demands discretion: report

A victim of a Belgian paedophile priest, whose testimony to a Catholic Church-backed investigating panel was seized by police, has broken cover to demand control over how his case is handled, a Belgian newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The Dutch-language daily De Standaard said that 63-year-old sociologist Jan Hertogen had testified to the commission that as a youth active in the church he was subjected to sexual abuse — but on the understanding his testimony was confidential.

The commission announced the resignation en-masse of its entire board on Monday in anger at the police raids last week that drew condemnation from the pope.

Hertogen was also unhappy at the way police acted, and complained formally to Brussels prosecutors on Monday, a move which obliges investigating magistrates to liaise with him before taking any action, the newspaper said.

“I am calling on all the victims to do the same thing,” Hertogen told the newspaper.

Hundreds of cases were being looked into by the commission.

“It’s the only right we have left. That will force the judicial authorities to take our feelings into account,” he underlined.

Hertogen did not want prosecutors to be informed, even if action could be taken despite the time lapsed since the events in question.

The commission was due to transmit to prosecutors details of the worst cases that could be pursued, once its work was complete.

However, sources say that the Belgian justice system decided to act immediately for fear that the Belgian Catholic Church authorities would cover up the most sensitive cases.