Father of family found hidden on a Dutch farm is accused of sex abuse

The 67-year-old is suspected of sexually assaulting two of his older children

The 67-year-old father of a family found hidden away on an isolated farm in the northeast of the Netherlands last month is now suspected of sexually abusing two of his three older children – none of whom lived at the farm's boarded-up farmhouse.

The family was discovered after the alarm was raised when a dishevelled 25-year-old man wandered into a bar in a rural area near Ruinerwold, a village of fewer than 3,000 people, in the province of Drenthe, and told the barman he hadn't been outside in nine years, and that he didn't want to return home.

When police arrived at the farm, they found a 58-year-old man who appeared to have suffered a stroke some years before and was confined to bed, and six young adults aged between 18 and 25 living in a hidden space in the farmhouse and whose relationship to one another and to the man was unclear to police and social workers.

Over the past month, DNA tests have been carried out and the young adults have spoken to psychologists. This information – according to a statement from the public prosecutor’s office on Friday – has shed some limited light on the extended group.

According to the statement, the 58-year-old man is an Austrian national who rented the farmhouse from a local owner.

He and the 67-year-old father face charges of holding a third man, a 69-year-old also from Austria, against his will in the nearby town of Meppel for several months in 2009 – although the story behind that alleged incarceration remains a mystery.

The prosecutor said all six of the young adults found at the farm had been confirmed as the children of the 67-year-old and a woman from Zwolle, a large town about 20 minutes away, who died in her hometown on October 6th, 2004.

The statement said that the father was now suspected of having sexually abused two of three older children who left the family home some years ago – and who never lived at the farm in Ruinerwold. This indicates there are nine children in all in the extended family.

Unitarian Church

The father is also known to have been a member of the Unitarian Church, also known as the Moonies, in the late 1980s, but severed his links and disappeared, according to his brother, who is still a member.

In another twist, a split appears to have developed between the nine children.

The four oldest have issued a statement through film-maker Jessica Villerius – whose company, Posh Productions, plans to make a documentary about the saga – saying they support the latest accusations against their father, who has already been charged with kidnapping and money laundering.

The other five children say they back their father and describe the events of the past month as “very painful”.

Ms Villerius (38) says her aim will be to create clarity: “It’s clear to me that nothing is as it seems. The situation is much more complex than everyone assumes. The children want to tell their own story, in a one-off, at their own pace.”

The case returns to court in January.

Peter Cluskey

Peter Cluskey

Peter Cluskey is a journalist and broadcaster based in The Hague, where he covers Dutch news and politics plus the work of organisations such as the International Criminal Court