Dutch prosecutors charge isolated farm father with sex abuse

International

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch father accused of holding six of his children against their will on an isolated farm for nine years is now also suspected of sexually abusing two of his other children, prosecutors said Thursday.

The abuse allegations add a grim new element to a case that is shrouded in mystery and garnered huge attention across the Netherlands.

The 67-year-old father and a 58-year-old man, who is reportedly an Austrian national and rented the farm to the family, are suspected of illegal deprivation of liberty and abuse for their alleged detention of six young adults on a farm in the rural farming village of Ruinerwold.

They will remain jailed as investigations continue, prosecutors said in a statement. They are expected to appear in court in January.

Police raided the farm, some 130 kilometers (80 miles) northeast of Amsterdam, in October and found six people — the 67-year-old and five young adults. DNA tests have established that the 67-year-old is the father of the young adults.

The raid came after a 25-year-old man, also part of the family, raised the alarm.

Investigations have now established that the 67-year-old, whose identity has not been released by officials, fathered nine children with a woman who died in 2004.

Prosecutors allege that he sexually abused two of the oldest three children, who had already left home. Details of when and where the alleged abuse happened were not released.

Prosecution spokeswoman Debby Homans told national broadcaster NOS that the father still has not been questioned for health reasons. She declined to elaborate on the health issues, but media have reported that the father has suffered a stroke.

A Dutch film maker who is directing a documentary about the case issued a press release which included statements from the children.

The oldest four children — the three who had left home and the 25-year-old who raised the alarm — said that they “recognize” their experiences in the indictment and have faith in the legal proceedings.

However, the younger five siblings stood by their father.

“We have learned from out father to seek happiness in your relationship with God and to take your education into your own hands and we still believe in that,” they said in the statement.

It was not clear where and when the documentary will be broadcast.

In addition, both the 67-year-old and 58-year-old suspects are now also accused of holding a 69-year-old Austrian man against his will in the eastern town of Meppel for several months in 2009.

Both suspects were earlier accused of money laundering after large amounts of cash were discovered at the farm.

Dutch media have reported that the father had written extensively online about his self-styled religious beliefs, including a video apparently showing him working out on a home-made fitness machine.

When police raided the farm, which was largely obscured by trees and had a large vegetable garden, they found improvised rooms where the family lived in effective isolation.

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