A year and a half ago, a “deeply religious” man in the Netherlands called police to report a burglary. The responding officers soon noticed that something wasn’t right in Henk Koelewijn‘s household. The children who were present — Koelewijn fathered a brood of 19 — acted nervous, and seemed afraid of their dad.
Now, the 59-year-old Jesus fan is on trial, answering for a range of alleged crimes against his kids that will make your blood run cold.
For the past 12 years, prosecutors say, Koelewijn beat at least one of his sons or daughters every day. He was never satisfied with a single blow; the younger children got at least 10 if they displeased him. The older ones typically received more. In keeping with the biblical warning “spare the rod, spoil the child” (Proverbs 13:24), Koelewijn would sometimes use a wooden stick to administer his beatings.
For good measure, he frequently threatened them with death, screaming on at least one occasion that he would shoot his evildoing offspring in the head. One particularly terrifying episode involved him menacing a 12-year-old child of his with a running chainsaw.
As if that isn’t enough, prosecutors say he also attempted to strangle another child; locked several of them in a small, dingy room for long periods without food or water; and sexually molested his then-11-year-old daughter.
Koelewijn’s defense is two-fold. First, he acknowledges euphemistically that he often treated his brood “strictly,” even “harshly,” but that the Bible allows just such an approach. His lawyer added that Koelewijn kept his progeny in check with “rough” methods “out of love.”
Second, the defendant says that several of his kids used drugs, associated with a bad crowd, and even stole from him; what could he do but teach them a lesson they wouldn’t soon forget?
So certain is Koelewijn of his innocence that he took the unusual step of allowing his full name to be used in the media (in Dutch news reports, suspects are usually referred to by their initials only). He also waived his right to exclude cameras from the courtroom, saying that his testimony and the facts of the case should absolve him in the eyes of all.
His wife, who looked the other way through all of the alleged abuse, may still be charged.
A 2017 psychiatric evaluation of Koelewijn yielded no indication of godsdienstwaanzin (religious mania), doctors said. I doubt that makes any difference to the children he terrorized every day. Four of them testified in court on Tuesday, relaying how they’re now tormented by persistent anxiety, crying spells, depression, and insomnia.
After reading all that, guess what the prison sentence is that Dutch prosecutors are asking the judge to impose.
All of five freakin’ years.
(Thanks to Bert for the tip. Screenshot via YouTube)