The diocese of Bruges esteems that Bishop Jozef of Kesel reacted in a correct manner to the new sexual abuse affair implicating the priest of Hooglede. The Bishop has taken the appropriate measures after the controversy surrounding the priest of Middelkerke, and suspended the priest, the diocese explained on Thursday. The affair involving the Middelkerke priest, who was named when he was charged for the sexual abuse of a 17 year old adolescent, has made the diocese react to another case of sexual abuse by the priest of Hooglede. The latter was the subject of a compliant involving events dating back to 2002, when he was in Menin. When the complaint was filed in 2013, the Bishop forbade the priest any contact with the victim and young people in general but did not suspend him.
According to the diocese, the priest was being watched and it was recommended to wait for the judicial inquiry, but this was taking time. The Bishop therefore decided to react. “To help the case and also due to events in Middelkerke, the Bishop immediately asked to meet abuse victims at the Centre for victims of sexual on Monday the 3rd of November to get another opinion. This happened on Monday the 10th of November. On the basis of this new opinion, the Bishop himself made the decision, on the same day, to suspend the priest concerned until a definitive decision has been reached by the judicial inquiry”, the diocese added.
For her part, the mayor of Hooglede, Rita Demaré (CD&V), said on Thursday morning that she was shocked to hear what the parish priest of her commune was accused of. “If what I’m reading in the paper is true, all that I can gather is that the justice department is not doing its job”, she said.
According to her, the priest has been at Hooglede for seven years and carried out his role diligently. “The only thing he didn’t do was catechism”.