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Belgian Bishop Paid Abuse Victim 'Considerable' Damages

(AFP) – 8 August 2010

BRUSSELS — A Belgian Catholic bishop who quit his post in April after admitting he sexually abused a boy for years paid his victim "considerable" damages, Belgian television reported on Saturday.

Spokesman Peter Rossel said that Roger Vangheluwe, the retired former bishop of northern Bruges, paid the family of his victim unspecified sums of money over a period of years, but not in a bid to buy his silence.

"Until last year, Monsignor Roger Vangheluwe handed over considerable sums to the family of his victim in the form of damages," Rossel said.

While the sums were not divulged, Rossel told Belgian RTL-TVi that they were "sometimes substantial".

Belgium is one of the countries worst hit by a rising tide of revelations of paedophilia by Catholic priests in Europe and North America.

In June, Belgian police raided a bishops' meeting as part of a probe into child sex abuse allegations, drawing stinging criticism from the pope.

Under a 1990s agreement, the Belgian Catholic Church was supposed to refer abuse cases to prosecutors to pursue, but internal Church investigators said victims wanted to keep their dossiers private.