Dutch public prosecutors wrongly dropped two clear cases of sexual abuse of minors by two Roman Catholic priests in the 1980s but it was not a cover-up, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors office said on Wednesday.
A new book published earlier in the day reported that both priests had confessed and numerous witnesses had testified for the defence, but prosecutors closed their inquiries after contacts with the Catholic hierarchy.
The book Vrome zondaars (“Pious Sinners”) by journalist Joep Dohmen also accused prosecutors of turning away victims trying to report abuse and working to deflect any discredit from the Church. (Photo: Basilica of Our Lady in Maastricht, 2 March 2005/Beckstet)
“In the two cases from 1980 and 1985 mentioned in the book, there seems to have been a provable case which was dismissed under certain conditions,” the spokeswoman said in a statement. “It must be said that these were not correct decisions.”
Dohmen’s NRC Handelsblad newspaper, which published excerpts from the book, quoted a lawyer for abuse victims as saying there was a “cover-up culture” among prosecutors decades ago. “The prosecutors tried above all to keep good relations with the Church,” lawyer Richard Korver said. “Many justice officers were loyal Catholics. That applied to judges as well.”