Progress in prosecution The Voice of Holland abuses

On 20 January 2022, an episode of the Dutch series BOOS was published about numerous cases of abuse at The Voice Of Holland. More than a year later, the claims against the accused are moving forward. Last week, the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service revealed to have gathered enough evidence against Jeroen Rietbergen and Ali B – two of the accused in the cases – to take the cases to court. Joost Nan, Professor of Criminal (Procedural) Law at Erasmus School of Law, explains what this evidence may consist of and why the Public Prosecution does or does not prosecute in sexual offence cases.

Last April, the Public Prosecution started an investigation regarding four suspects of sexual offences surrounding the Dutch singing competition The Voice Of Holland. For two of them, the prosecution continues: bandleader Jeroen Rietbergen is being prosecuted for rape, and coach Ali B for rape and sexual assault. The suspects allegedly committed the offences between 2014 and 2018, of which one abuse is related to the television programme. Four charges were previously filed against Ali B., but one has been dismissed for lack of evidence of criminal conduct. “In these types of cases, it may be the case that there was, for example, no coercion surrounding the sexual acts”, Nan explains.

Evidence in sexual offence cases 

Before the Public Prosecution usually takes a sexual offence case to court, a victim statement and supporting evidence are required. The Public Prosecution now thinks it has collected the required evidence. The exact evidence will be revealed at the public hearing. Nan has his ideas about the evidence that will be presented. For example, he mentions injuries observed immediately after the event or others that match the victim’s story. “Such as an injury statement from a doctor or a statement from a policeman who comes to the scene or the emotional state of the victim right after the fact”, Nan says. 

One source is not sufficient  

Nan explains that evidence should never be traceable to one source alone. For example, if a victim tells another person what happened, this is not enough evidence against a suspect: after all, the story comes from the victim himself. “In such a case, other evidence, such as an injury statement, is needed”, Nan explains. “DNA traces from the suspect can also help”, he adds. 

“The basic rule is that you cannot convict anyone based on a single testimony”, Nan further explains. “In one-on-one situations, you often see a victim testifying about the offence. Often, additional evidence or an additional source confirming the story is missing. To get someone convicted, however, that is what is needed.” In the case of Rietbergen and Ali B, the Public Prosecution is convinced that this additional evidence is present. If the Public Prosecution was unconvinced, it would not take the case to court. “This is not to give the victim false hope and not to unnecessarily burden the accused with a criminal trial”, Nain says. 


It could be a while before the criminal trial of Rietbergen and Ali B begins. Nan explains that the start depends on the investigation: “In that investigation, the victims, any other witnesses and often the suspects may be heard again.” In addition, the defence will be given time to see if it is missing information and may still submit investigation requests to the court. The court will then see if these are granted. After that, the hearing date will be determined. 

More information

Read more about the evidence of the Public Prosection here (in Dutch). 

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