Rape charges pressed against Dutch TV producer

Jelle Brandt Corstius
Jelle Brandt Corstius. Photo: Vera de Kok / Wikimedia Commons

Dutch television presenter Jelle Brandt Corstius is preparing to press rape charges against producer Gijs van Dam, he announced on Twitter, thereby confirming that it was indeed Van Dam who he accused of raping him in an anonymized article in Trouw last week. Van Dam appeared on Pauw on Monday night, denying the rape accusations and announcing that he is filing charges of libel and slander against Brandt Corstius.

The incident happened in 2002, while Brandt Corstius and Van Dam were both working on the talk show Barend & Van Dorp. In an article in Trouw and an interview with De Wereld Draait Door last week, Brandt Corstius told that he was drugged and forced to perform oral sex, without naming the person he is accusing. "When he also wanted to anally rape me, a survival instinct took over and I fled outside", he wrote in Trouw. He wrote that he is not naming any names. "It's his word against my word. There are no witnesses, I do not know - for the time being - of any other incidents. If it comes to a lawsuit, there is a good chance that he will successfully accuse me of slander, and that I will take a second mortgage on my house to pay the damages."

On Pauw on Monday night, Van Dam denied raping Brandt Corstius. "I've been extensively executed without any kind of trial based on a lie", Van Dam said. According to him, the two of them were drinking wine and flirting and ended up having consensual sex, after which Brandt Corstius went to his own room. "No one was raped, nobody was forced." Van Dam and his lawyer, Peter Plasman, announced that he is pressing slander and libel charges against Brandt Corstius. 

Brandt Corstius indeed did not mention Van Dam's name in public until Tuesday morning. But Plasman believes the fact that he mentioned the name to Trouw journalists, is enough to file slander and libel charges, he said on Pauw. 

In a reaction statement Brandt Corstius posted on Twitter, he said that the Pauw broadcast made him "angry and sad". "Angry, for the obvious reason, that Gijs van Dam denies that he raped me. It was unreal to see one of my most traumatic events reduced to a kind of conviviality.", he wrote. "Mostly sad though. The reason I told this story was to encourage other victims to finally tell their story and hopefully to report. To support them. However, yesterday's broadcast was all but supportive. Not to me and not to all the other victims. Since last week, a report has been in the making. I'll leave it at that for now."

A statement released by law firm Ficq & Partners confirmed that Corstius Brandt and his lawyer Nico Meijring have not yet received the slander charges from Van Dam, "but await them with confidence" as it would provide the opportunity to also question Van Dam as a witness. "In the performance of Van D. and his lawyer, Jelle Brandt Corstius sees a confirmation of the difficult position in which he and other victims of sexual abuse often are. Client regrets that, especially for victims of sexual abuse who are not in the position or have the opportunity to - sooner or later - tell their story", the lawyers write.

The lawyers also confirmed that they are preparing charges against Van Dam. 

According to NRC columnist Arjen Fortuin, one thing Pauw's broadcast on Monday did, was show victims of sexual violence what can happen when they open their mouth. "I wonder what would've happened if the men had direct contact before publishing the piece - whether that would've made a difference. That of course depends on exactly what happened and was felt fifteen years ago. I see no reason why Jelle Brandt Corstius would lie about this. Just like for an outsider, it can not be ruled out that Van Dam was aware of no harm. What I am sure of: victims were watching. For them it was 22 minutes of fear. They saw what can happen when you open your mouth: not being believed, set down as a liar and manipulator. That is why people stay silent."

Frits Barend and Henk van Dorp, of the talk show Barend & Van Dorp where Brandt Corstius and Van Dam were working in 2002, feel "incredibly shitty" about this whole affair, Barend said on NPO Radio 1 on Tuesday. "Henk and I feel incredibly shitty about this. We always thought we were very open and fun with our editorial staff. We always provided a women-friendly work environment that made women feel safe. Women always got a taxi late in the night and never walked over the street by themselves. Very honestly, I never thought about the boys. Very naive." 

So far Barend only had contact with Brandt Corstius about this matter. "It's the story of Jelle against Gijls. I was not there. Nobody was there, so no one has proof. But what would Jelle get out of throwing himself in the hornet's nest like this?"

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