Dutch Death Investigation Now Includes Two Institutions

The investigation into unusual spikes in child deaths at Catholic institutions for the mentally disabled in the Netherlands during the mid-1950s now includes two facilities: St. Joseph's for boys, where 34 residents died between 1952 and '55; and St. Anna's for mentally disabled women and girls, where 40 died in the same time frame. (See: "New probe into Dutch Catholic institute deaths") The child deaths occurred in the same Dutch town (Heel, Limburg) at institutions run by the church. The deaths at the boys institution were particularly troubling since the facility housed only 400 children (initial reports indicated 60) and more than 10 boys died each year during the timeframe, the death rate at the institution apparently only one or two residents in the years before and after. The girl's institution was much larger with 1,000 residents and the death rate, though high, is apparently less suspect since many of the residents suffered from significant health problems.

The deaths at least at the boy's facility were probably the result of neglect, according to a former nurse at Saint Joseph who spoke to Dutch newspaper. 'When a colleague cared for the boys, the death rate began to rise. The doctor warned the bishop and the colleague was sent to Belgium,' he told the paper.

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The unusually high death rates were uncovered during a church-funded investigation into as many as 2,000 allegations of abuse by clergy in the Netherlands. A final report from that investigation is expected by the end of the year. The diocese of Roermond has "welcomed" the launch of an investigation by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

According to Radio Netherlands, a spokesperson for the diocese was unable to explain why nothing happened in the past when relatives asked questions about the deaths. "We're talking about the 1950s. A totally different era... I can only say that the Dutch bishops are in favour of ... openness, and this is a good example of that. It was prompted by abuse, and we open up the archives for that.”

According to the Associated Press, "There is no evidence that the unusual number of deaths over a three-year period in the small southern town of Heel was ever investigated for common threads or links to each other."

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John Barbieri
7 years 2 months ago
Good for the Dutch bishops in having the integrity to cooperate with the investigation into both of these matters. 
Rory Connor
7 years 1 month ago
And just possibly this may solve the 'mystery' (although no doubt some people will claim that the doctors who signed the death certs, were in league with the Catholic Church to cover up the murder of children)!

http://www.rnw.nl/english/bulletin/boys-1950s-mental-institution-died-natural-causes
Boys at 1950s Mental Home Died of Natural Causes
The deaths of 34 boys at a Catholic institution in the early 1950s were all due to natural causes, according to their death certificates. Half of the boys who lived at St Joseph's home for mentally disabled children in the town of Heel in the Dutch province of Limburg died of infectious diseases, regional television station L1 reports.

L1 and national publicbroadcaster NOS had requested information about the causes of the boys' deaths from the Dutch statistics office. Earlier this month, the Deetman Commission, which is looking into cases of sexual abuse in Catholic institutions, asked the Public Prosecutor's Office to look into the deaths as there were peaks in the number of fatalities at the boys' home in 1952, 1953 and 1954.

The information from the Dutch statistics office (CBS) is based on the death certificates of the boys. According to the NOS, the doctor reported death by natural causes in all cases. L1 reports that birth defects, cancer and heart disease were also recorded as causes of death. All the boys were teenagers under the age of 18. The were also peaks in the number of deaths at a girls' home for mentally disabled children in the same town, but those cases are not under investigation.

The boys' home had a poor reputation as the residents were made to work long hours without pay making bicycle lights for Philips. They were also made to work at night.

So far the Public Prosecutor's Office has not commented on its ongoing investigation into the deaths.

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