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Acquittal for Zwolle church leader: sexual misconduct with female church member not proven

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Former pastor Evert V. (61) of church community De Deur in Zwolle has been acquitted of fornication with a female member of the church. The two had a relationship for some time, but according to the court in Zwolle ‘it has not been established that the woman was in a position of dependence and the man had the role of care provider’.

The Zwolle man had been charged with 180 hours of community service for lewd acts, which allegedly took place in 2015. As pastor and leader of the Zwolle branch of De Deur, V. had frequent contact with the woman at the time. In his own words, he had to address her about a relationship she allegedly had with another member of the church. It was his job to expel her from the church, as stated in the rules at De Deur, but could not get that past his heart.

He began a series of conversations with her and eventually fell “madly in love” with the woman. This culminated in sexual acts, but according to V., this was entirely voluntary on her part until, to his great chagrin, she put an end to the secret affair.

Blessing breasts by laying on of hands

A few years later the woman filed a report against him. She said she had been manipulated by the pastor for years. She felt forced into sexual acts because he abused his position as leader of the church.

In a victim statement she read during the trial, she accused him of being a “power-hungry man” who indulged his strange sexual preferences on her. For example, he allegedly “blessed” her breasts via the laying on of hands and filmed her slaughtering fish because it would arouse him.

Her report had major consequences: V. had to give up his leadership position within the church.

That the two had sexual contact is undisputed according to the court, but not that V. abused his ‘authority’ as pastor and church leader. The verdict states: ‘The contents of the case file offer insufficient concrete leads to be able to establish that the accused acted as a counsellor within this relationship and that the declarant was in a position of dependence in relation to the accused.’

The woman who filed the report demanded more than 9,000 euros in damages during the trial. The acquittal also means that V. does not have to pay this amount.

Source: De Stentor

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