Against Evert V., the former pastor of Evangelical Church De Deur in Zwolle who is suspected of sexual abuse, a restraining order and 180 hours of community service were demanded in the Zwolle court on Tuesday.
The suspect was charged with committing sexual abuse in 2015 with a female congregation member entrusted to his pastoral care. The Reformation newspaper brought the case to public attention in September 2020 after the newspaper was approached by the alleged victim and her family. At that time, a police investigation had already begun.
At the beginning of the hearing, the defendant confirmed his earlier confession to the police that sexual acts had indeed taken place. According to him, however, these were not forced acts, but there was an equal relationship and mutual consent. That he was in a position of power because of his pastoral position, he did not realize at the time, he said.
However, the prosecutor argued that there was no balance in the relationship between them, as the pastor acted in the capacity of a caregiver and is also 28 years older than the defendant. The defendant indicated to the judge that he never noticed any of that age difference.
Only when the RD reported on the issue did V. realize that what he had done was not right. “I can imagine that people see that I was in a position of power. But I never profiled myself that way. I am known as an accessible pastor. The relationship with the declarant was a friendship relationship. It didn’t occur to me at all that I was the pastor.”
The judge then asked, “But at the police station you said, “In retrospect, I see it differently.” Is that right?”
V.: “When I look back now I was just so incredibly wrong. The moment charges are filed against you and I myself am expelled from the church, you realize the seriousness of what happened. This should never have happened. I had not seen this as an abuse of power in the first place, but rather as a fornication case, that as a married man you have a relationship with a married woman, which is also biblically wrong.”
The woman who had filed the report told the hearing in a statement that “the sexual offenses” were not even the worst thing for her. “For me, those have less impact than the spiritual abuse, the manipulation and having to slaughter fish.”
She was referring to the fact that she repeatedly had to slaughter fish with a knife at V.’s urgent request. The pastor recorded this ritual with a film camera. According to the declarant, Valk engaged in sexual fetishism for years. He was, she said, fascinated by animal slaughter, preached about cannibalism and had “at least 25 women” slaughter fish. “Many of these girls developed anxiety disorders,” she said.
When the judge asked V. about his reaction to the declarant’s statement, he said, “I think the trauma of the people she is talking about has to do mostly with the way it was portrayed in the newspaper (the RD, ed.), as if they were involved in occult practices. I just wanted to leave it at that.”
The woman says she has wondered for years how it could have come to this. “I looked up to him,” she explained. “After all, he was not only my pastor (…) but also the leader of Holland and Europe. I felt like David and Saul in the Bible. David didn’t dare to do anything to Saul because Saul was the anointed one of God. Even when Saul was hunting for David’s life. (…) Doubt of leadership was equal to doubt of God.”
The prosecutor demanded in addition to the restraining order and community service – 240 hours of which 60 were suspended – compensation of over 9,000 euros. The judge’s decision will follow in two weeks.
Source: Reformatorisch Dagblad