Monday, March 15, 2010

Child Abuse: Protestant to head independent inquiry into Dutch Catholic church sex abuse claims

Radio Netherlands reports allegations of sexual abuse committed by Dutch Catholic clergy will be investigated in an "independent, open and transparent" way, says Wim Deetman, who will head the initial inquiry into the allegations. The Dutch Episcopal Conference appointed the former Christian Democrat education minister and ex-Mayor of The Hague after more than 100 claims of abuse were filed.

Two weeks ago, Radio Netherlands Worldwide and Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad published their investigation into alleged sexual abuse at the Don Rua Catholic boarding school in the east of the Netherlands in the 1950s and 1960s. This story and further investigation prompted hundreds of fresh claims.

Catholic background
At a press conference given by the Dutch Episcopal Conference on Friday, Mr Deetman said he was surprised by the request to lead the inquiry. He didn’t even consider himself the right person for the job: “I’m protestant, I do not have a Catholic background. I wondered whether it wouldn’t be wiser to ask someone from that background in this stage of the investigation. I even suggested many names, but it became clear to me that the independent character of the inquiry was a very important factor and that the bishops therefore preferred someone from outside the Catholic church.”

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