Ex-crèche staff to be tried on abuse charges

Author (Person)
Series Title
Series Details Vol 7, No.5, 1.2.01, p3
Publication Date 01/02/2001
Content Type

Date: 01/02/01

By Rory Watson

Two former employees at a Brussels crèche for the families of European Union officials are to face trial on charges that they sexually assaulted children in their care.

Belgium's chambre du conseil, which acts as a pre-tribunal, followed the examining magistrate's advice and ruled that the case should be heard in the tribunal correctionnel rather than in the higher cour d'assise.

The prosecution requested this expedited procedure - which will result in any sentence imposed being lighter - in order to make the process easier for the parents of the children.

Neither defendant has worked at the Clovis crèche since autumn 1997, several months after parents first lodged allegations of child abuse at the European Commission-owned premises with the Belgian authorities. Both are now in their home countries - Italy and Spain - and deny the charges.

The Commission, which initially tried to play down the allegations, is now considering becoming a party to the case. Not only would this provide moral support to the parents, but it would also give the institution direct access to the case files.

The six children involved, some as young as three years of age when the alleged incidents took place, were in different classes and the parents did not know each other. But their allegations were remarkably similar. Each talked of being placed in the boot of a car and taken off the premises.

"It was only when we had each separately read the dossier that we realised there was a lot in common. All the children were afraid of a lift, of a garage, of a car and did not want to be photographed. My child always associated the sexual act with the car," explained one parent.

The defendants have two weeks to appeal. If they do not, the case could be heard later this year.

Subject Categories