An ‘odd jobs man’ who lived on isolated farm where six children were raised in seclusion until one escaped and alerted the authorities, has been jailed for three years for helping deprive the children of their liberty.
Josef B had an ‘essential role’ at the farmhouse and without him, the father would not have been able to keep his children isolated from society for so long, the court in Assen said.
He was, however, found not guilty of physically abusing the children, the youngest six of a family of nine, whose births were never registered and who never went to school.
B lived with the children’s father Gerrit Jan van D and the children on the farm near the village of Ruinerwold until 2019 when one of the older children went to the local bar, appealing for help. They are thought to have lived on the farm for nine years.
Judges in Assen ruled that B, an Austrian by birth, had a crucial role in keeping the family isolated, helping the father renting property, doing shopping and providing financial support.
Father Gerrit Jan van D had also faced charges of abuse and depriving his children of their liberty, as well as the sexual abuse of two of them but the case against him was abandoned early last year because of his poor health.
Van D had a stroke several years prior to the family’s discovery. He now lives in an institution.
At the time of their discovery the family was portrayed as some sort of doomsday cult with no connection to the outside world, but it emerged later that both the father and the eldest son were active on social media. The father did, however, have past connections to the Moonie religious cult, which is where he and B met.
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