Handyman and tenant Josef B. is currently on trial for allegedly assisting his landlord, Gerrit Jan van Dorsten, in hiding and mistreating nine children for a decade on his remote property within the village of Ruinerwold in Drenthe.
Josef B.’s hearing takes place on Monday, May 9, 2022, with the expectation that a sentencing will be declared sometime in the afternoon, according to the Dagblad van het Noorden.
According to RTV, the Officier van Justitie (prosecutor) alleges that Josef B. aided in depriving the freedom of all nine of Van D.’s children. This includes the six who were hidden in the basement of Ruinerwold for a decade. The prosecution suggests the abuse occurred both in Ruinerwold, and across two additional properties over the course of two decades spanning from 1999 to 2019.
Josef B. allegedly supplied groceries and funds to Van D., despite being aware of the freedom-deprived children living on the property. According to RTL, the Openbaar Ministerie (OM) suspects that Josef B. knowingly contributed to the ‘unlawful deprivation of liberty’, and mistreatment of all nine children.
Austrian-born Josef B. has previously claimed in his defense that he “never deprived anyone of their freedom,” given that he was not allowed past the Ruinerwold property’s fence. According to Josef B., this was due to Van D. believing that he would bring “evil spirits” onto the property, potentially compromising his children’s purity.
According to RTV, Josef B. has been awaiting a decision on the trial, following an initial hearing in 2020, for two and a half years, spanning back to the beginning of the case.
Gerrit Jan van Dorsten, the father of the mistreated children and prime suspect of the case, was himself declared unfit for trial in 2019 following severe health tribulations resulting from a cerebral infarction.
Two of the children claim that, in addition to physical abuse, Gerrit Jan van Dorsten sexually assaulted them. In conversation with the NOS, Edino, one of Van D.’s older children, stated that following the passing of his mother he was forced into sexual encounters with Van D., who thought that Edino’s body had been “possessed” by the spirit of his recently deceased wife.
Despite the claims, Van D. himself has maintained his own innocence. He states that the doors and gates of the Ruinerwold property were never locked, suggesting that the children were free to leave whenever they pleased. Rather, he claims that he is simply deeply religious, and passed on his values and beliefs unto his children.
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