Radio Netherlands - January 24, 2011
Dutch cardinal testifies in child abuse case
By Robert Chesal
The former leader of Dutch Roman Catholics is to testify for the first time about his knowledge of child abuse in the church. Earlier controversial comments he made about the abuse caused an outcry in the Netherlands.
Cardinal Ad Simonis will appear in court in Middelburg on Tuesday. [see article below] It will be the first time such a senior Roman Catholic cleric is to give evidence on child abuse before a Dutch court.
The Middelburg case has been brought by a 34-year-old man who was abused by the now very elderly priest, Jan N. The abuse took place in the early 1990s in Terneuzen in the diocese of Breda. The victim hopes the evidence of Cardinal Simonis and other church officials will show that the diocese can be held liable for not taking measures to prevent sexual abuse.
Last week, Bishop Hans van den Hende of Breda and Herman Spronck, head of the Salesian teaching order in the Netherlands, gave their testimony in the case. Father Spronck admitted that the Salesians (Father Jan’s first employers) did not inform the Breda diocese of the priest’s paedophile offences.
While he was in a position of authority at the Don Bosco Youth Centre in Rijswijk, Fr Jan had sexually abused multiple boys. He was arrested in 1979 and confessed to the offences but after a week in prison was allowed sick leave. His case was dismissed in 1980 by the Public Prosecutor’s office in The Hague. The reason for that decision is unclear and the dossier has since been destroyed.
Only five years later, Fr Jan started work as a priest in a parish in Terneuzen, part of the Breda diocese, where his history was not known. In 1990, the priest was found guilty of the sexual abuse of a number of boys. He was given four months’ suspended sentence and ordered to do 160 hours of community service.
Fr Spronck’s evidence seems to absolve the Breda diocese of blame. He admitted that a warning would probably have prevented Fr Jan from committing more sexual abuse. The Salesians’ inaction “may have been rather regrettable,” he told the NOS Dutch public service broadcaster.
What did the cardinal know?
Now, it’s Cardinal Simonis’ turn to testify about what he knew of the earlier case in Rijswijk. At the time, he was bishop of Rotterdam, and Rijswijk is in the Rotterdam diocese. It is hoped his statements will show whether there is enough evidence to bring a civil case for damages against the diocese of Breda.
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Associated Press - January 25, 2011
Dutch Cardinal Testifies in Catholic Abuse Case
By MIKE CORDER, Associated Press | (AP)
MIDDELBURG, Netherlands (AP) -- Dutch Cardinal Adrianus Simonis testified Tuesday he had no role in the appointment or dismissal of a Catholic priest accused of drugging and raping a young man.
The brief appearance by the 79-year-old retired archbishop of Utrecht at Middelburg District Court marked the first time such a senior cleric had appeared in a Dutch courtroom to answer questions about abuse in the church.
The victim, Dave ten Hoor, says he was drugged and raped twice by the priest, identified only as Father Jan N., in 1989 and 1990 in the southern town of Terneuzen, Ten Hoor's lawyer Martin de Witte told The Associated Press. De Witte said he expects at least one more alleged abuse victim to join the case.
Ten Hoor was not present at Tuesday's hearing, which was not a trial.
De Witte says he is trying to find out how much church authorities knew about Father Jan's abuse to establish whether he can sue for compensation.
"I do not know him at all," Simonis said of Father Jan, adding that he had nothing to do with his appointment as a priest in Terneuzen.
Simonis has been drawn into the case because before moving to Terneuzen Father Jan also allegedly abused children at a youth center run by the Salesian order in Rijswijk, a town just outside The Hague. At the time, Simonis was Bishop of Rotterdam and Rijswijk fell within his diocese.
However the Cardinal said he had visited the center just once for a party and did not recall meeting the priest, though he did not rule out that he may have been introduced to him.
In testimony earlier this month, a Salesian leader told the court his order did not tell Catholic officials of Father Jan's history of abuse when he was appointed a priest in Terneuzen.
Simonis' testimony came as an independent commission led by former government minister Wim Deetman is investigating some 2,000 allegations of abuse by Catholic priests and other church workers.
Many of the cases date back several decades. They began coming to light amid publicity of sex abuse scandals besetting Catholic churches elsewhere in the world.
Wearing a gray suit and clergyman's white collar, the Simonis walked with the help of a cane into the courtroom and asked the judge to speak up as he was hard of hearing. He entered and left the court building via a rear goods entrance.
Simonis said he did not want to discuss broader issues of sex abuse in the Catholic church, "as I don't want to get in the way of the Deetman commission."
Simonis told the court he has spoken to Deetman, but did not elaborate.
In answer to a question from De Witte, he denied that the Vatican had ever issued guidelines to church officials telling them not to report cases of abuse to police and said sexual abuse was not discussed by priests prior to revelations emanating from the United States in the early 1990s.
"For us, it did not exist," Simonis said.
This article was found at:
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