Allegations of sexual child abuse at a Salesian boarding school in the east of the Netherlands were probed by the religious order as early as 1967.
An investigation by newspaper NRC Handelsblad and Radio Netherlands Worldwide has revealed that the inquiry at the Don Rua boarding school in 's-Heerenberg in Gelderland was led by Quintus Muth, then provincial superior, the Salesian order's highest regional authority.
Mr Muth's secretary at the time was Ad van Luyn, now Bishop of Rotterdam and the current chair of the Dutch Bishops' Conference. Earlier this week, the Conference ordered a probe into allegations of sexual child abuse at Catholic educational institutions in the Netherlands. Bishop Van Luyn says he did not know about the inquiry because he had left the school in 1966. However, this statement contradicts that of a representative of the bishop, who has told Radio Netherlands Worldwide that Mr Van Luyn was working in 's-Heerenberg at the time.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide has also noted that Bishop Van Luyn's curriculum vitae on the internet page of the Bishop of Rotterdam has been changed in the past few days. The reason for the change is not known.
NRC Handelsblad and Radio Netherlands Worldwide have obtained detailed information in which alleged victims accuse 137 priests, monks and nuns of sexual and physical abuse. They claim there was a systematic cover-up of ongoing abuse.
The inquiry launched earlier this week by the Dutch Bishops' Conference is being led by former Education Minister Wim Deetman.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide