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'Ashamed', Oxfam Haiti ex-director denies sex allegations

From Reuters - February 15, 2018

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The former Oxfam director at the heart of a sex abuse scandal said on Thursday he made mistakes when working in Haiti but denied paying for sex with prostitutes or abusing minors.

In his first response to allegations over his conduct, Roland Van Hauwermeiren said in an open letter to a broadcaster in his native Belgium he did not want to cast himself as a victim but feared that Oxfam, other aid workers and those they help would suffer from false accusations.

In the four-page letter, seen by Reuters, he accused an unnamed former employee of being the source of reports that have shaken the global humanitarian community and prompted Britain and the EU to review funding for Oxfam.

I am not a saint. I am a man of flesh and blood and I have made mistakes (not easy to admit) and I am DEEPLY ASHAMED, the 68-year-old former soldier wrote in Dutch to broadcaster VTM.

He said he resigned his post running the Oxfam operation after the 2010 Haiti earthquake because he had failed to exercise sufficient control over staff accused of sexual misconduct. But he denied any wrongdoing himself - he never organized sex parties or visited brothels in the country.

He acknowledged having had a brief sexual relationship at his Oxfam house with a local woman whom he met as a result of giving her younger sister milk powder and diapers for her child. He denied giving the woman money but said the liaison fueled rumors and had left his leadership and Oxfam compromised.

Reuters was not able to verify that account.

SLANDER

The letter also dealt with allegations about his conduct in earlier operations: In Liberia in 2004, he acknowledged, he was fired after attending a party where two prostitutes were present although he said he had only danced and flirted with them.

He said rumors of aid staff paying for sex in Chad in 2006 were complete nonsense.

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