A staunchly Protestant father of 19 children has been jailed for two years for repeatedly beating his children with a piece of wood and locking them up in the attic, an old potato shed and a shipping container.
Henk Koelewijn was arrested in September 2016 after a number of his adult children made a police complaint against him. The family live in isolation on an industrial estate in Bunschoten, a small town north of Amersfoort, where religious parties dominate in local politics.
‘It is a very religious family. The father takes all the decisions,’ RTV Utrecht reporter Mark van der Wel told tv chat show RTL Late Night last year.
According to court documents, Koelewijn ruled his home with an iron fist and he told a television show several years ago that the Bible justifies beating children.
The court found Koelewijn, 57, guilty of systematically beating his children and locking them up in confined places. However, there was no evidence that he had sexually abused one daughter, judges said.
Koelewijn, who spend one year in custody ahead of the trial, will now be sent home, pending an appeal. However, he has been given a five-year ban on contacting any of his children and grandchildren.
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