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Belgian Abuse Victim Protests Police Seizure of Confidential Files June 30, 2010

A Belgian man has filed a formal complaint against the police seizure of files belonging to a Church commission investigating sex-abuse complaints.

Jan Hertogen, who says that he was sexually abused by a priest, said that he had given his testimony to the Church-appointed commission on the understanding that it would not be passed along to prosecutors. The police violated his privacy be seizing the files, he complained. Hertogen—who said that he has come forward now to protest the police action—argues that all of abuse victims who offered the testimony to the Church commission should be included in his complaint against prosecutors.

In what was almost certainly a related development, Pope Benedict XVI met on June 30 with Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard of Brussels, the president of the Belgian bishops' conference. The Vatican did not disclose the topic(s) of their conversation, but it surely centered on the police raid of the Belgian bishops' offices and the Church's response.


Belgian Files Complaint Over Church Sex Abuse Raid

by ROBERT WIELAARD (AP) – 29 June 2010

BRUSSELS — A Belgian man who says he was sexually abused by a priest filed a complaint with Brussels prosecutors Tuesday after his confidential testimony to a church-appointed panel was seized by Belgian police.

Jan Hertogen, a 63-year-old sociologist, said he told his story to the panel on the condition it would not be passed to authorities. He said the police raids — which also targeted a Catholic cathedral, church offices and a crypt — were an invasion of his privacy.

"After all those years, I told my story to the (sex-abuse panel) insisting it not be shared," he said, adding that he was now willing to speak to the media because he was so distressed at the victims' loss of privacy.

Hertogen wants all 475 men and boys who contacted the panel with allegations of abuse to complain to the Brussels prosecutor's office and register as "injured parties."

That would allow alleged victims access to information about any prosecutions resulting from the June 24 raids, which sparked a storm of protest by the Vatican after files were confiscated, bishops detained and holes drilled into a prelate's tomb to search for documents.

The Belgian police are investigating clerical sexual abuse after the country's longest serving bishop stepped down in April, confessing he had sexually molested a boy. Several other men and boys had said they had previously told Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who retired in January, about abuse but their complaints had not been investigated.

His home was among the targets of the raids.

The Catholic Church says it had the right to investigate allegations alongside police and the head of the panel accused prosecutors of using them as "bait" to lure frightened victims into the open. Pope Benedict XVI called the raids "deplorable."

But in a sign the row may be abating, Belgian officials will meet a papal envoy within days to discuss the raids, said foreign ministry spokesman Bart Ouvry. He did not give a date for the meeting between Archbishop Giacinto Berloco and Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere.