Austrian handyman who helped Dutch cult father to hide children on a farm is jailed for three years
A Dutch court on Tuesday jailed an Austrian handyman for helping a cult leader isolate his own children on a farm for ten years, in a case that shocked the Netherlands.
The man, identified only as 61-year-old Joseph B. due to Dutch privacy rules, played an “essential role” in depriving the six children of their freedom in the remote northeastern village of Ruinerwold, the court ruled and sentenced him to three months in prison. on. year.
The Austrian was a ‘pupil’ of the children’s father, Gerrit Jan van Dorsten, who ran errands and rented the farm where Van Dorsten thought he was preparing his children for a new world called Eden.
“The suspect played an essential role and without his contribution it would not have been possible for the father to allow the children to live so long isolated from society,” said the court in the northern city of Assen.
Judges acquitted Joseph B. of detaining three older children and of abusing one of Van Dorsten’s children.
But he was also convicted of detaining another Austrian man who was a follower of the father and hanging him in a hut for several weeks in 2009.
The father, who was charged with holding, assaulting and abusing his children, was found unfit to stand trial last year after a debilitating stroke.
The Austrian was a ‘disciple’ of the children’s father Gerrit Jan van Dorsten, who bought groceries and rented the farm (pictured) where Van Dorsten thought he was preparing his children for a new world called Eden
Daylight fell into the ‘space’ and the children were allowed to go outside occasionally, but never beyond the farm fence
Gerrit Jan van Dorsten is depicted on the farm, 100 kilometers north of Amsterdam. He was arrested on suspicion of, among other things, deprivation of liberty, but suffered a stroke and dropped the lawsuit against him
Six adult children – four women and two men, including Jan Zon van Dorsten (pictured) – were held on a Dutch farm for nine years
In the photo: Cafe De Kastelein in Ruinerwold where Jan Zon van Dorsten raised the alarm
Police arrested van Dorsten and Joseph B. in October 2019 after the eldest child walked into a local bar in a confused state and raised the alarm.
The children eventually revealed that their father had isolated them on the farm from birth and beat them from an early age to drive out “evil spirits.”
The father saw himself as a new Messiah and “saw it his duty to establish a new society called Eden according to the rules of God,” the court said.
Joseph B. had found the farm in Ruinerwold, rented it in his name and renovated it together with Van Dorsten so that the family could live there in isolation, according to the court.
He also made sure that money transferred from Austria went to the father and he took care of the daily shopping, even after Van Dorsten’s stroke in 2016.
He had a “different role” from the father, but there was “enough close and conscious cooperation” between them to show that he was also guilty, the court ruled.
The case of the so-called Ruinerwold Children shocked the Netherlands and led to an award-winning documentary.
The six children kept on the farm are now all young adults.
But Van Dorsten’s relatives revealed in 2019 that three older siblings had already fled the family’s isolated life before the father bought the farm and imprisoned the remaining six children.
Their statement added that Van Dorsten told his family to “make no attempt at all to find his place of residence” when the family members separated decades ago.
According to the EN Times,,The family has learned with dismay of the events in Ruinerwold. In recent days, a family member has informed us of the identity of the found family.
‘Gerrit Jan van Dorsten severed all ties with his immediate family in the 1980s. He told us not to make any effort to find his residence.
‘Eight years ago, three of Gerrit Jan van Dorsten’s children fled the family in Hasselt and contacted their brother from a previous marriage, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins. The family has since been unaware of the existence of other children.”
Janny Knol, chief of police for the Northern Netherlands, said in 2019 that the children were being held as an “enclosed space” within the farm building that was “divided into small compartments”.
Ms Knol said the siblings – four women and two men – were kept mostly within the space, but were occasionally allowed into the garden, although no further than the farm fence.
Dutch police are investigating the case of a family that was locked up on a remote farm for nine years. Prosecutors said the three oldest children were not allowed to talk about the existence of their siblings
Van Dorsten (photo) posted videos on Facebook in which he is training in the garden
She said they appeared to be between the ages of 18 and 25, although that is not certain as they were not registered with authorities. They had no formal education, but could read and write Dutch.
In 2021, a court ruled that a stroke in 2016 had affected the father’s ability to communicate and understand so severely that continuing the case would violate his right to a fair trial.
Corinne Jeekel, lawyer for the eldest four children, tells the NOS that he is disappointed with the decision.
“It is very unfortunate for the clients that there will be no criminal judgment,” Jeekel told NOS in March 2021.
The rest of the family, however, stood behind their father.
“The youngest five children are very happy,” lawyer Robert Snorn told local broadcaster RTV Drenthe.
Prosecutors said at the time that the children are free to choose their own future, even if it means returning to an isolated life.
“Over the past 18 months, the children have learned about our society, have been able to participate in it and have received mental and medical care,” said the public prosecutor.
“If, now that they’ve had a taste of the alternative, they still choose to live in seclusion with their father again, to practice their faith … that’s their choice.”