Ruinerwold children "hit hard" by book about father

Aerial photo of a farm on Buitenhuizerweg in Ruinerwold where a family was found living in isolation for 9 years, Oct 2019
Aerial photo of a farm on Buitenhuizerweg in Ruinerwold where a family was found living in isolation for 9 years, Oct 2019Photo: Politie

The children found living an isolated existence in a hidden space on a farm in Ruinerwold last year responded to a book about their father Gerrit Jan van D., which is being published on Friday. They were "hit hard" by the book Spookhoeve Ruinerwold, written by journalists Silvan Schoonhoven and Marcel Vink, they said on talk show Op1 on Thursday.

"We have been hit hard by the way our information is handled and ended up in a book. It further hurts us in this difficult situation, while much of what we read has nothing to do with the truth," the children said in a statement read out on the talk show. 

The children also said that they are hurt by the fact that they are described as a dark family in the book. That makes it seem that they did something wrong themselves, they said. They also said that the journalists did not approach them for a response to the book. 

In the book, the two journalists write in detail about Gerrit Jan van D. They based their writings on Van D.'s chat history, and the criminal file that is in the possession of the Telegraaf. They were the guests on Op1 on Thursday, to discuss the book. Schoonhoven and Vink said that they did seek contact with the children at an earlier stage, and that they were careful with the information used.

Van D.'s lawyer said on Thursday that he is considering taking legal step to prevent the publication of the book. "The book is written on completely incomplete information and is harmful to my client," he said to RTV Drenthe.

Van D. was discovered living with six of his nine children in a hidden space on a farm in Ruinerwold, Drenthe in mid-October 2019. This happened after one of the children, a 25-year-old named Jan, left the farm and told his story at a local bar. The authorities believe the family lived there in complete isolation for around nine years. A DNA kinship investigation confirmed that the now-adult children living on the farm all have the same mother and father, and that Van D. is their father. Their mother died in Zwolle on 6 October 2004. Van D.'s three oldest children left home before the family moved to the farm.

Gerrit Jan van D. is suspected of money laundering, deprivation of liberty and mistreatment of his nine children, and sexually abusing two of his oldest children. Josef B., the 58-year-old tenant of the farm who was arrested shortly after the family was discovered, is suspected of money laundering, deprivation of liberty, and mistreatment. Both Van D. and B. are also suspected of depriving a 69-year-old Austrian man of his liberty in Meppel for several months in 2009.

The first public hearing in the Ruinerwold case is scheduled for Tuesday. Van D. will not appear in court, because he still hasn't been questioned by the authorities, according to the Telegraaf. He is unable to talk because of a brain hemorrhage, and may never again be able to.

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