ZWOLLE (JPZ) – A former pastor of religious community De Deur in Zwolle confessed in court Tuesday to having committed lewdness with a fellow believer. ”What I did, I did as a friend, not as a pastor.”
Her story came out after the police started talking to her about the graffiti on her house. The property had been daubed with the terms “slut” and “whore” after the pastor was temporarily removed from office. She had known the now 61-year-old man as her “pastor” since she was nine years old.
In 2015, he called her to him after she allegedly began a relationship with another fellow believer while she was married, something that is not allowed within the church. ”I should have imposed disciplinary action,” the defendant said in court Tuesday, ”but I didn’t do that out of pity for her.” Follow-up conversations, he said, led to a far-reaching friendly relationship, including sexual acts. ”She saw me as her friend.”
The victim herself told her story in court, from which a very different picture emerged. She told of sessions in which women within the closed religious community had to slaughter fish at the behest of the pastor. A total of 25 women participated in these sessions. It was “a sexual fetish” for the defendant, she said. He preached about cannibalism and rape ”and women had to perform plays where some had to pretend to eat him.”
The woman also said she was mentally abused by the pastor. According to her, the role of women within The Door consisted only of ‘assisting your husband and bearing children’. She did not succeed in the latter, which gave her an inferiority complex. ”In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, he decided to bless my breasts. He took advantage of my sense of inferiority.”
Initially, the pastor was only temporarily sidelined by the church. After the Reformation newspaper, among others, wrote about the vice case, The Door decided to say goodbye to the pastor. Evangelical Church De Deur was founded in Steenwijk in 1978, originated from the American Jesus People and moved to Zwolle in 1981. There it is now the headquarters of the dozens of congregations in the Netherlands. The congregation on the Gasthuisdijk is radical and is described by some as a sect. The suspected pastor was a church leader for years.
How was there an equal relationship when a counselor, which is what a pastor is, enters into a relationship with someone seeking his help? Who is 28 years older than her, the prosecutor wondered. The fact that the facts dated back to 2015 meant that she demanded community service of 240 hours, 60 of which were suspended. Part of the suspended sentence is a ban on contact with the victim. According to lawyer Wiek Achten, there is no evidence of a hierarchical relationship between the suspect and the victim. There was also no pressure or coercion. While the suspect indicated in his last word how sorry he was, the victim and her companions walked demonstratively out of the room.
The judges will deliver their verdict on May 31.