BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The former Oxfam director at the heart of a sex abuse scandal has told a newspaper in his native Belgium that he did not deny all the allegations made against him but complained of “many lies and exaggerations”.
In his first public response to last week’s accusations of sex parties during his time running the charity’s operations in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, Roland Van Hauwermeiren was quoted as also telling De Standaard reporters who called at his apartment on the Belgian coast that his family had cut him off.
“I really don’t feel like commenting … What I see being published everywhere, is hard to bear. It hurts,” the 68-year-old former soldier said of allegations published in Britain’s Times newspaper of his involvement with prostitutes.
“But you should know that a lot of people, including in the international media, will blush with shame when they hear my version of the facts,” he told De Standaard. “It is not that I deny everything. There are things which have been described correctly. But there are many lies and exaggerations.
“Parties every week? Fancy villas? Women paid with money from the organization?”
Van Hauwermeiren told the paper that he would respond further through a lawyer in due course, adding: “It is especially tough that my family no longer want to see me.”
Reuters could not reach Van Hauwermeiren for comment. Reuters could not independently verify the allegations contained in the Times report.
Oxfam has neither confirmed nor denied the specific accounts reported in the media but has said an internal investigation in 2011 confirmed sexual misconduct occurred and it has apologized.
Haitian Justice Minister Heidi Fortune told Reuters on Wednesday that he had asked Belgium for help in starting legal action against Van Hauwermeiren, without specifying which laws he had broken.
The Belgian Justice Ministry said on Thursday that it had not received such a request. Belgium’s federal prosecutors said on Thursday that they were not aware of any investigation against Van Hauwermeiren.
(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Alastair Macdonald and Alison Williams)