The darkest side of show business was revealed on Thursday afternoon in a report on sexual misconduct and abuse of power by men who work or worked at talent shows The Voice of Holland. Dozens of women had reported themselves after a call from TV maker Tim Hofman of the online BNNVARA program BOOS, with testimonies about inappropriate behavior in and around the success format that media billionaire John de Mol brought on TV in 2010 and in which he was involved until 2020. used to be. Also, spin-off participants The Voice Kids are groped.
In all those years, only one complaint has reached the highest boss, De Mol said in a rare interview that he gave to Hofman after he had read the women’s story and the findings. Although it has now become clear that the misconduct surrounding The Voice has led to traumatic experiences for the victims, he could hardly imagine that the culture on the set contributed to this and why no one had reported before. Last week, the program was removed from the channel by RTL during an external investigation into abuses. The Public Prosecution Service calls on victims to come forward.
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One ex-participant filed a complaint this month against The Voice talent coach and rapper Ali B, of what she described as rape in his studio eight years ago when she was eighteen. Several women told anonymously how they experienced unwanted sexual contact with the now 40-year-old Ali. A twenty-year-old participant in his writing camp for rappers – not related to The Voice – also made a report this week, it would be about unwanted penetration. He denied the allegations to BOOS and stated in a later response that he had never had sex with a candidate.
Heavy accusations were also made against singer Marco Borsato, who has been discredited for some time. Several underage participants of The Voice Kids have stated to Hofman that he has groped them, which has been confirmed by their parents. Borsato does not respond and points out through his lawyer that “publicity interference would be harmful at the moment” for a sex crime case in which he is involved. In it, a 22-year-old woman accused him of abuse when she was a minor. He denies and has filed a complaint for, among other things, defamation.
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Since Saturday it has been known that there was sexually transgressive behavior with keyboardist and The Voice band leader Jeroen Rietbergen. He was reported on Tuesday for unwanted groping of a participant in 2018. New were the allegations against an unnamed director, who would have made inappropriate sexual remarks and assaulted on the set of The Voice. He would also have brushed aside the then 18-year-old’s story about her sexual contact with Ali B. He does not recognize himself in this image, he says in a reaction to BOOS.
De Mol says he warned Rietbergen in April 2019, after his sister Linda’s then partner acknowledged that a complaint about inappropriate WhatsApp contact was well-founded. De Mol said he had become furious and then said that Rietbergen would be watched. De Mol was also involved as a producer after the sale of the format to ITV (2015). He was in the studios “90 percent of the time” but had not noticed anything except the single report about Rietbergen, who is now accused of sexually transgressive behavior by nineteen women. As far as Borsato is concerned, De Mol has “difficult to believe that Marco would have children. I just can’t imagine it.”
The lawyer Richard Korver, who specializes in sex crimes, often heard John de Mol say that victims could have come forward. “That threshold is too high. In the broadcast, victims only dared to tell their story anonymously, with a voice changer, and only in the knowledge that they are not alone”. A ‘social problem’ is that ‘in the Netherlands we do not know how to deal with victims of sexual abuse. And also not used to addressing people about inappropriate behavior.” The statements made “firm allegations” according to Korver. He did find it “remarkable” that Hofman states to De Mol that he “knows” that the facts occurred. “It’s about believing your sources, but you can’t know. The people who are now accused must be given the opportunity to defend themselves in legal proceedings.”
A version of this article also appeared in NRC on the morning of January 21, 2022