Dutch child sex scandal has precedents

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The Roman Catholic church has been rocked over recent years by a series of child sexual abuse scandals, spanning the United States to the Netherlands, where an independent inquiry said Friday it found "tens of thousands" of victims since 1945:

- UNITED STATES: The US church has paid out millions of dollars to compensate victims and also to head off lawsuits.

In 2002, Bernard Law, one of the top US cardinals, was forced to resign as archbishop of Boston over accusations that he had failed to denounce paedophile priests.

In 2004 a criminal investigation found that some 4,400 priests had engaged in sexual abuse of minors in the country between 1950 and 2002, and that the abuse had affected some 11,000 children.

- IRELAND: One of the most staunchly Catholic countries in Europe has seen a series of crises, leading Pope Benedict XVI to publicly rebuke its bishops for a "breakdown of trust".

A total of 14,500 Irish children are reported to have been victims of abuse by clergy.

In 2009 a damning report on the Dublin archdiocese -- the country's biggest -- revealed church leaders did not report abuse to police until the 1990s as part of a culture of secrecy.

- GERMANY: Since early 2010 Germany has been hit by revelations that hundreds of children were physically and sexually abused in the past in institutions, all but a handful of which were run by the Roman Catholic Church.

They have included the revelation that two priests abused pupils in a Jesuit school in Berlin in the 1970s and 1980s, and allegations that abuse occurred in the 1950s and 1960s, and possibly later, in a school attached to a cathedral in Regensburg.

The Church has offered 5,000 euros in compensation to victims of child abuse, a figure dismissed as woefully inadequate by victims' representatives.

- BELGIUM: The country was rocked in April 2010 with revelations that the bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, had abused a nephew for 13 years.

In September, 2010 a Belgian Catholic Church-backed commission published a report revealing hundreds of cases of alleged sexual abuse of minors by clergy and church workers, and 13 suicides by abuse victims.

Most were related to charges of sexual abuse committed between the 1950s and the late 1980s by Catholic clergy.

- AUSTRIA: Over 800 cases of abuse in Catholic institutions in Austria are reported so far by a commission tasked with investigating abuse cases after it was hit by a wave of abuse revelations

© 2011 AFP

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