Rotterdam bishop could face sex abuse charge

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A Dutch criminal lawyer has officially reported the Catholic Church in the Rotterdam diocese for giving a platform to a criminal organisation whose purpose was the sexual abuse of minors.

Jan Boone has requested that the Rotterdam public prosecutor press charges against a former bishop, Philippe Bär, as well as other prominent church leaders in the Rotterdam diocese. Philippe Bär was bishop of Rotterdam between 1983 and 1993, when he resigned from his position abruptly to return to a Benedictine monastery in Belgium’s Chevetogne.

Mr Boone said a report released last week by the church-installed Deetman Commission supplied enough evidence to launch proceedings. Wim Deetman, a former Christian Democrat minister, discovered in his investigation that Roman Catholic bishops in the Netherlands protected sexual abusers and covered up their crimes.

Claim easier in criminal case The report specifically refers to the Rotterdam diocese under Mr Bär, where a large number of abuses took place in the 1980s. Mr Boone argues that the procedure for claiming damages is made easier for the victims of abuse in a criminal case, where they are seen as the injured party, rather than a costly and unpredictable civil case. The prominent lawyer thinks the victims could each enter a claim for 100,000 euros.

In a criminal case, victims also have the right to speak in court about their ordeal. This could have “a healing effect”, Mr Boone claims.

The Deetman report concludes there were up to 20,000 victims of abuse in the Netherlands between the end of World War II and 1981.

Radio Netherlands Worldwide reporter Robert Chesal and NRC Handelsblad journalists won an award in 2010 for bringing to light the abuse, sparking a national scandal.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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