NL editie / World edition

Breaking the silence on sexual abuse

by Jeroen Akkermans

Norbert Denef was sexually abused for years while serving as an altar boy in a Roman Catholic church. When he finally spoke out 35 years later, his story was ignored by the Church as it tried to cover up such practices. He has been rejected by his family and treated as a pariah, but Denef continues to try and achieve justice for himself and other victims of abuse by Roman Catholic clergy.

Norbert Denef is fighting against the Roman Catholic Church.


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Jeroen Akkermans

Jeroen Akkermans

Jeroen Akkersmans has been reporting from Germany and Eastern Europe since 2001. He started in 1989 at RTL Netherlands, which is part of RTL Group, the largest commercial broadcaster in Europe, and continued as a correspondent in Moscow and London.


“Journalists like to shelter under a warm blanket of neutrality. According to a certain journalistic law ‘those who try to be objective need to stand in the margins, even if someone is drowning.’ We as journalists cannot be afraid of wet clothes. But those who are always on the dry and never have to defy stormy waters, loose the ability to swim against the tide. Neutrality and objectivity can than lead to indifference. The builders of One11 pull through the mud of society and sometimes manage to dig a hole. That’s worth more than just a good story.”