Inquiry: Thousands abused in Catholic institutions

December 16, 2011 - 4:50 AM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Thousands of children suffered sexual abuse in Dutch Catholic institutions, and church officials failed to adequately address the abuse or help the victims, according to a long-awaited investigation released Friday.

The report by the an independent commission said Catholic officials failed to tackle the widespread abuse "to prevent scandals."

Based on a survey among more than 34,000 people, the commission estimated that one in 10 Dutch children suffered some form of abuse. The number doubled to 20 percent of children who spent some of their youth in a Catholic institution.

The commission said it received some 1,800 complaints of abuse at Catholic schools, seminaries and orphanages and that the institutions suffered from "a failure of oversight."

The commission was set up last year under the leadership of former government minister Wim Deetman to investigate allegations of abuse dating from 1945.

The investigation followed allegations of repeated incidents of abuse at one cloister that quickly spread to claims from Catholic institutions across the country, echoing similar scandals around the world.

The Dutch branch of the Catholic church agreed last month to launch a compensation system that clears the way for victims of abuse by priests and other church workers to receive payments.

The new compensation system has a scale starting at euro5,000 ($6,500) and rising to a maximum of euro100,000 ($130,000) depending on the nature of the abuse.

According to the Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics, 29 percent of the Dutch population of 16 million identified themselves as Catholics in 2008, making it the largest religion in the country.