A Dutch family was found to have been living in a farmhouse for nine years, isolated from the outside world. Further investigations revealed that the house used to be owned by the Rev Sun Myung Moon’s Unification church, more commonly referred to as Moonies.
Apparently the father of the secluded family was attempting to form his own cult. Identified by the church as Gerrit-Jan Van Dorsten, the 67 year old was detained yesterday as he is believed to have been “depriving people of their liberty, harming the health of others, and money laundering”, according to a police statement.
Five children (aged 18 to 25) of the supposed father were found in an undisclosed room in the house, not long after the sixth sibling – reportedly the oldest of the bunch – had left the property and showed up at a bar nearby and claimed his family needed assistance.
“We have reason to believe the people did not stay on the premises out of free will,” said the police in their statement. “The situation requires a careful approach whereby attention and care is given to the young adults found.”
Forming a cult
The church identified the 58 year old man who was renting the house to be Josef Brunner. The church – now known as the Universal Peace Federation – said that they were “deeply alarmed to hear of the family being held in inhumane conditions on a farmhouse in the Netherlands”. According to the church, who confirmed that Van Dorsten was a member for a short time in the 80s, said that it was no secret he suffered from mental problems. They additionally claimed that they found no records suggesting Brunner was connected to the church, even though a local television station alleged that he was a member of the church where he first encountered Van Dorsten.
Several other individuals who also claim Van Dorsten is their father, said that they separated from the family eight years ago and didn’t know what happened to the others.
One member of the church, Willem Koetsier, said that Van Dorsten departed from the church and was thought to have collaborated with another individual to begin their own cult.
“I have heard from older members that he was a very spiritual person and set up a group with his family,” said Koetsier. “Sometimes people who are spiritual start their own church or movement. I think this is the case with him. It could be that he thought he had a special mission.”