Belgian bishop faces new abuse allegations

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A Belgian lawyer said on Monday he had launched an inquiry into a new case of alleged sexual abuse by the former bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, who has already admitted to having abused his under-age nephews.

“The present case concerns sexual abuse in the 1990s,” at a care home in Loker, in western Belgium near the French border, the lawyer, Walter Van Steenbrugge, said.

He said he had handed the allegations to a court in Brussels and lodged an inquiry with it. It was up to the court to decide whether the statute of limitations ruled out a prosecution, and if not, whether or not to prosecute the bishop, he added.

Vangheluwe, who was bishop of Bruges from 1984 to 2010, is the highest-ranking member of the Belgian Catholic Church to be involved in a child abuse scandal which resulted in 475 complaints of molestation by priests.

Vangheluwe admitted in 2010 that he had abused one of his nephews during the 1980s, when the nephew was a child.

That case was beyond the statute of limitations, but he was forced to resign as bishop and left Belgium under Vatican orders.

He caused outrage in 2011 when he told a Belgian TV station that he had also abused a second nephew but that he did not consider himself a paedophile.

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