The Hague-based pro-democracy institute ProDemos, which runs the Stemwijzer voting advice tool and organises debates, is at the centre of a sexual abuse scandal which it attempted to keep secret broadcaster NOS said on Tuesday.
A man who was in a leadership role at the centre has been dismissed after using his position to force a number of young men who worked there to have sex with him in the company’s offices, the broadcaster said.
One of the men went to the press because he was unhappy about the way ProDemos leadership had tackled the case. At least six workers have given statements to NOS about what happened to them.
None has reported the abuse to the police because they were ‘afraid of the consequences’ as ‘young workers who featured their future would be impacted negatively if their names became public,’ the broadcaster said.
The men who say they were forced into sex were among 60 people who give guided tours of the parliamentary complex to school pupils and tourists.
NOS said ProDemos dealt with the scandal internally and had refused to bring in outside investigators, despite a request by the works council. This ProDemos said, was out of ‘privacy considerations’.
MPs have called on the cabinet to investigate exactly what happened. However, home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren said via a spokesman that she did not wish to add anything to the statement already given by ProDemos.
In a statement, the ProDemos board says the man was suspended as soon as the claims became known and has since been dismissed following an investigation.
The management takes complaints extremely seriously and deals with them in a careful and confidential way, the statement said.
In addition, the institute said, it would help any worker who wished to take the issue to the police. ProDemos also said it would bring in outsiders to assess if the institute had reacted properly to the claims.
Prodemos gets €4.4m subsidy from the home affairs ministry and €2m from parliament to carry out its tasks.
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