Fmr. lecturer at Arnhem theater school accused of sexual relationships with students

Anne Buurma, a former study leader and lecturer at theater school Toneelschool Arnhem, had numerous sexual relationships with students in the 90's, eight former students and three others involved told the Volkskrant. Actress Nienke Romer and a few other students reported his behavior to the other teachers at the school, resulting in Buurma leaving the school in 2000. The former students agreed to tell their story because they feel that at the time, it was insufficiently acknowledged that Buurma's behavior was unacceptable, the Volkskrant reports. 

According to the former students the newspaper talked to, some other teachers ignored Buurma's sexual relationships with students for a long time. The students also emphasized that the intimacies took place voluntarily. "He did not tie anyone up", actress Nienke Romer, 42, explained to the Volkskrant. "But there is of course an unequal power relationship in such a training program. As study leader you can not do that. That is wrong by definition."

Former students describe Buurma as a charismatic teacher that students look up to "like a kind of guru". He often went out with students to bars at night. "He was one of us", actor Sjaak Hartog said to the newspaper. "Only afterwards did I realize what a strange situation that was. The predator in the same camp as the sheep." Hartog ended up in bed with Buurma after one such night out. "I did not see it as crazy immediately: it was late, we could not drive home anymore, so we kept sleeping. But when I lay there, I felt him start to touch me at one point. I took that hand away, I did not want that. Then he did it again. I pushed him away again, then it stopped."

A 42-year-old former female student, who asked to be kept anonymous, was in a relationship with Buma for a year. "What he said about open relationships, I found it very interesting. You are young, you're experimenting. I rolled with it. But it escalated completely. I was fully indoctrinated by that person, he could break me." Only after some time did she realize that the teacher was also sharing his bed with other students. She was an "emotional wreck" after the relationship. This relationship cast a shadow over her life for a long time, she said to the newspaper. "There is still a big gray cloud behind me. I'm not an actress anymore, for example. I can not say that's his fault, but I lost myself completely through that situation. I was terrified by the theater world."

Simone Gablan, 44, thinks that Buurma's behavior is one of the reasons she didn't pursue a career in acting. Buurma once made unwanted advances against her, she said to the Volkskrant. "He binds people to him with alcohol and sex. We lived very secluded from the outside world at the school. In our class of five, three had a relationship with him."

Another former student told the Volkskrant that Buurma asked her to go home with him at a bar. She refused. "The next day in class, everything I did was garbage. It struck: if someone from our class rejected him, the whole class fucked up and would be bad actors. If he had a good night, we could do no wrong."

According to Nienke Romer, Buurma's behavior stood in the way of proper education. "At any moment, I could name ten fellow students with whom he had been to bed. With our class, we went to the teacher team to tell them about it. We thought it had to stop. I think some teachers knew for a long time. They had to, everyone knew. After we told our story, it was over right away, he was sent away", she said to the newspaper.

Anne Buurma now lives in Spain with his girlfriend. Over the telephone he told the Volkskrant that he had "many affairs" in his life, but left unanswered whether these affairs were with students during his time as study leader and lecturer. "I do not have to answer your questions", he said, according to the newspaper. "I've been very open with sexuality through my entire life", he said, adding that he also had relationships with teachers as a student at the Toneelschool Amsterdam. "I've never done anything wrong." He can't imagine that his students had problems with his behavior. "And if so, the should approach me directly. They are always welcome here in Spain."

Buurma also denies leaving the Arnhem theater school because of relationships with students. "This is not the reason I left Arnhem. That involved us moving to another building and that a very different policy would be implemented, I did not agree with that", the Volkskrant quotes him.

That's complete nonsense, former teacher Christiaan Nortier said to the newspaper. "He had to leave because of those relationships. Several students were victims. There were multiple relationships, which he also unequivocally admitted to during a teacher meeting", Nortier said. "I was really shocked. Anne said he had a different philosophy about sexuality and such, and that may well be, but you can't do that with students in an authority situation." He added: "You're talking about children between 18 and 22, just waking up in this area. Presumably, there are people among them that never had sexual contact, and then this is your first experience, with someone who has totally disconnected sex from love. An awful condition."

A spokesperson from educational institution Artez, under which the Arnhem theater school falls, told the newspaper that relationships between students and teachers are not allowed, even in the 90s. She could not comment on Buurma's departure from the school for "legal reasons". 

This is not the first case of sexual relationships between students and teachers at a Dutch theater school. Students from the theater school in Amsterdam previously