Former region director of Oxfam Roland Van Hauwermeiren (pictured) said he had made mistakes in the missions he headed in Liberia, Chad and Haiti but denied organising sex parties with local women or abusing minors.
Van Hauwermeiren told Belgian newspapers that international media hurt him by indulging in “lies and exaggerations” about his case. His family is so upset they do not want to see him anymore.
In a four-page open letter published on Thursday on the VTM Nieuws website, the 68-year-old Belgian national said he never went to a bordello, nightspot or bar in those countries. Earthquake survivors tried to enter his home seeking money or job or offering sexual services but he never yielded to their advances, Van Hauwermeiren said.
The Belgian said he was not a saint but a man of flesh and blood who made mistakes and felt deeply ashamed of them.
He had intimate relationship with an honourable woman, not an earthquake survivor, at his home on three occasions and he never gave her money, van Hauwermeiren said.
He said he met her while providing nappies and baby formula to her sister who had a young child.
He had revealed this to Oxfam during an internal investigation, van Hauwermeiren said.
This relationship fed rumours that he was involved in sex parties. He should have led by example but compromised the organisation and himself, van Hauwermeiren wrote in the letter.
Investigators, who went through financial reports and audits, never found any evidence to show his office funded sex parties.
Van Hauwermeiren said he resigned from Oxfam before the end of the 2011 investigation for three reasons:
- Not properly responding to rumours when the sex scandal broke
- Giving these rumours some amount of credibility because of his extramarital affair with an honourable woman
- Differences of opinion with Oxfam on certain technical modalities.
Interestingly, a Catholic aid agency Caritas Belgium, which had been van Hauwermeiren’s first employer after he left the Belgian army, gave him a clean chit during his time with the agency.
An agency spokesman said people who worked with him between 1995 and 1999 did not notice anything wrong with him. Many praised him for his good work.
Meanwhile, The Times alleged on Wednesday that young girls used to visit Van Hauwermeiren’s house in Liberia in 2004 when he was working for a different charity.