Belgian Church Offices Raided in Abuse Inquiry

The New York Times


Published: January 16, 2012

BRUSSELS — The Belgian authorities searched the offices of bishops in three cities on Monday, removing documents as part of an investigation into child sexual abuse that has plunged the country’s Roman Catholic church into crisis.

The raids took place in Antwerp, the eastern city of Hasselt, and Mechelen, where, in 2010, investigators drilled into a crypt in the quest for evidence.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Prosecution Service, Lieve Pellens, said that the investigation, known as Operation Chalice, was an important phase in which officials were trying to establish whether there were grounds to prosecute priests on charges of negligence and failing to aid abuse victims.

“We have had around 200 statements from victims,” she said, “and based on these, and 87 civil claims, we wanted to look at the individual personal records of priests made by their superiors to see if, in these records that were kept by archbishops or bishops, there is anything useful.”

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