Disturbing details of child sex abuse have been revealed in a report into Belgium’s Catholic Church.
The author concludes that 13 suicides and six attempts were the direct result of the abuse.
Child psychiatrist Peter Adriaenssen spoke to nearly 500 victims who were abused over a thirty year period between 1960 and 1980.
He said: “In the Netherlands most abuse cases happened in boarding schools. We, in Flanders, were confronted with the priest as a friend phenomenon, a friend of the family. Many parents were proud that the priest came to dinner.”
The revelations come a day after a court ruled that police raids carried out in June over the allegations were illegal.
The investigating judge is said to have embarked on a fishing expedition.
But the decision means prosecutors must hand back several documents gathered from church offices.
A large amount were also taken from the home of Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the former archibishop of Belgium who retired in January.
The raids drew heavy criticism from the Vatican when no evidence was produced after a search of a crypt in Malines.
The action also brought an end to the work of an investigating commission led by Adriaenssens.
He had already discovered abuse in nearly every diocese, but claims there was no attempt by the Catholic church to cover-up the allegations.
On the contrary, many bishops cooperated with the commission. Adriaenssens suggest some seemed unaware of the consequences of their actions.
The first case came to light through Roger Vangheluwe’s revelations.
In April the now defrocked Bishop of Bruges resigned and admitted to having sexually abused a nephew before and after becoming a bishop.
It is unclear what may now happen given the setback suffered by the prosecution.
But Belgium’s Catholic Church is due to announce on Monday whether its commission’s investigations may be continued.