Amsterdam sex crimes case
|Amsterdam Sex crimes case|
|Decided||June 24, 2012|
|Appealed from||Rechtbank Amsterdam ECLI:NL:RBAMS:2012:BW6148|
|Appealed to||Hoge Raad (cassation)|
|Judges sitting||W.M.C. Tilleman, A.M. van Woensel and. N. van der Wijngaart|
The Amsterdam sex crimes case (Dutch: Amsterdamse zedenzaak) is a court case involving the abuse of babies in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The defendant was Roberts Mikelsons, dubbed "the Monster of Riga" by the Dutch press, who had worked at several daycare centres in Amsterdam and was accused of abusing 67 children as well as possession, production and distribution of child pornography. Mikelsons was found guilty and sentenced to 18 years and 11 months in prison, followed by involuntary commitment.
Identification and arrest
The case started in December 2010 with the broadcast in the Netherlands on the television show Opsporing Verzocht (literally: "Detection Requested") of images originating from the United States. The images were obtained during a child pornography investigation and showed Mikelsons and an unnamed child with a stuffed toy known as Miffy (Dutch: Nijntje). As Miffy is originally a Dutch product, the investigators suspected the child to be Dutch. After the boy's grandfather realized the boy was his grandson, the police were directed to the child's sitter, Robert M. During a search of his house, computers containing a large collection of child pornography (46,803 photos and 3,672 movies, part of which had been unsuccessfully deleted during the broadcast) were found and seized, resulting in his arrest.
Roberts Miķelsons (in the Netherlands generally referred to as Robert M.) (born in Riga, Latvia, 14 September 1983) became a naturalized Dutch citizen in 2008. He was convicted of possession of child pornography in Germany in 2003 while working at a daycare facility in Heidelberg. In 2004, he married Richard van Olffen. From 2007 to 2009, he worked at several daycare centres of "het Hofnarretje" group, and from 2009 to 2010, at "Jenno's Knuffelparadijs". According to evaluations of the Pieter Baan Centre, a forensic psychiatric observation clinic, Mikelsons is a hypersexual pedophile with a personality disorder.
Richard van Olffen (referred to as Richard van O.), is accused of possession of child pornography as well as sexual assault on an 11-year-old boy, both of which he was acquitted. He is charged with being an accessory to the crimes of Robert Mikelsons.
Mikelsons confessed to the abuse of 83 young children, but he is charged with abuse of 67 because some of the parents preferred to keep their children out of the court records owing to privacy concerns. The youngest of these children was 19 days old at the time the acts were committed. The abuse took place at the child care facilities where Mikelsons worked, at the homes of the children he babysat, and at Mikelsons and Van Olffen's home. Mikelsons admitted abusing the children and suggested, according to media reports, that more children might have been involved. According to the prosecution (Dutch: Openbaar Ministerie), Mikelsons carefully scouted his babysitting addresses for presence of heavy curtains and absence of nanny cams. He stopped the abuse when the children started to be able to talk.
The trial started on 12 March 2012 in the Court of Amsterdam (Dutch: Rechtbank Amsterdam), a Dutch court of first instance. It took place at "de Bunker", a strongly defended courtroom in Amsterdam Nieuw-West. During the preliminary motions the parents of the children were granted the right to speak during the trial (a right normally only granted to direct victims), a decision which was challenged by Mikelsons' attorneys. Upon the granting of the right to speak, his lawyers (Wim Anker and Tjalling van der Goot) requested substitution (Dutch: wraking) of the three judges, which was denied. The prosecution demanded a sentence of 20 years' imprisonment, followed by Involuntary commitment (Dutch: TBS: Ter beschikkingstelling van de Staat) for Mikelsons and 12 years for Van Olffen. The TBS charge was based on a psychiatric report from the Pieter Baan Centre. The report was based solely on observation of his behaviour in prison, as Mikelsons had refused to cooperate with a psychiatric evaluation. According to the prosecution Mikelsons was "cold, calculating, refined and proud of his actions". Although Mikelsons pleaded guilty to the abuse, the defense demanded "almost full acquittal", stating that the search warrant for Mikelsons and Van Olffen's house (and thus the photo and video evidence from the computers) had not been obtained correctly. On 20 April 2012, the hearings ended with the "last word" of the defendants (as is customary in Dutch criminal law). Mikelsons indicated that he was sorry about his acts and that he should have done more to prevent his acts from happening:
Ik had meer moeten doen. U hebt gelijk, ik had de perfecte mens moeten zijn, want alleen dan had ik deze tragedie kunnen voorkomen.
(English: "I should have done more. You are right, I should have been the perfect man, because only then could I have prevented this tragedy").
Judgement in First Instance
The judgement was given on 21 May 2012. Mikelsons was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment, followed by involuntary commitment, while Van Olffen was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment. The search of the house of the defendants (in which the photographic evidence was seized) was deemed admissible and the judges considered the psychiatric evaluation in which Mikelsons was diminished responsibility asserted (a requirement for involuntary commitment) reliable. The diminished responsibility nor his cooperation during the investigation did not result in a lower sentence, due to the nature and level of organization of his crimes. Upon hearing this part of the sentence, Mikelsons threw a glass of water at the judge.
Mikelsons and Van Olffen were further sentenced to payment of a fine of in total € 467,000 euro and € 365,000 respectively to the children. Further claims (for material damages to the parents) were deemed "too complicated" to be treated in a criminal court case, but could be claimed in a civil lawsuit. Non-payment will add 8 days imprisonment per child for Mikelsons and Van Olffen.
Mikelsons and Van Olffen appealed the judgement, which triggered the prosecution to appeal as well (a so-called "vervolg appel") in order to have more possibilities before the appellate court. The start of the appeal took place on 15 November 2012. The judges decided to allow a second psychological evaluation evaluation center Oldenkotte in Rekken on the request of Robert M., who indicated his willingness to cooperate. The parents also had the possibility to speak during the trial, as a new law making this right explicit had in the mean time entered into force.
Mikelsons appealed the judgement to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands (Hoge Raad) in a cassation procedure, in which he is represented by Dirk Daamen The Hoge Raad dismissed the appeal, in conformation with the advice of its Advocate-General. Due to the length of the procedure before the Supreme Court, which lasted over 16 months the length of the sentence was reduced by one month to 18 years and 11 months.
The public in the Netherlands was shocked when the events surfaced. The public prosecution also stated during the case that the events shocked Dutch society and that it would therefore not be justified to request a lesser sentence than the 20 years demanded. The case has also had effects on male preschool professionals: according to an evaluation by the news agency NOS and the Belangenvereniging van ouders in de kinderopvang en peuterspeelzalen (Boink) (English: Organization for parents in child care and day care), tens of men have quit or have been fired as a result of changed public opinion towards men in the field, including negative reactions of parents.
According to the Amsterdam police, the investigation of leads found on Mikelsons' computer has led, worldwide, to the arrests of 43 suspected child molesters.
- Marlou Visser (14 March 2012). "Geen nieuwe rechters in Amsterdamse zedenzaak (No new judges in Amsterdam Sex Crime Case)". Elsevier (in Dutch). Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- Toby Sterling (21 May 2012). "Robert M. Pedophilia Conviction: 'Monster of Riga' Sentenced to 18 Years". The Huffington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- Luke Browne (21 May 2012). "'Monster of Riga' Dutch pedophile sentenced to 18 years in jail". GlobalPost. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- "Advocaten vinden bewijs Robert M. illegaal". Nieuws.nl (in Dutch). 16 April 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- "Decision Hoge Raad, nr ECLI:NL:HR:2014:2668". rechtspraak.nl. 19 September 2014.
- "'Babysitter abused, filmed up to 50 young children in Amsterdam'". DutchNews.nl. 13 December 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- Suzanne Borgdorff (13 December 2010). "Nijntje-knuffel leidde politie naar Robert M. (Stuffed toy "Miffy" pointed police to Robert M.)". AD (in Dutch). Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- "Behoud spreekrecht in zedenzaak". NOS (in Dutch). 12 March 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- Pieter van den Akker (14 March 2012). "Wrakingsverzoek Robert M. afgewezen (Substitution request Robert M. denied)". BNR (in Dutch). Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- Gert Janssen and Jan van Loenen (5 April 2012). "Eis tegen Robert M.: 20 jaar en tbs (Charge against Robert M.: 20 years and involuntary commitment])". Nieuwsuur (in Dutch). Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- "Parliament shocked by earlier conviction Robert Mikelsons". Radio Netherlands Worldwide (in Dutch). 16 December 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- "Directeur Het Hofnarretje is verbijsterd (Director Het Hofnarretje is bewildered)". het Parool (in Dutch). 13 December 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- "'Langdurige tbs Robert M. noodzakelijk' ('Long term involuntary commitment Robert M. necessary')". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). 25 November 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- "Amsterdam child sex abuse victims demand damages". Radio Netherlands Worldwide. 2 April 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- Suzanne Borgdorff (19 March 2012). "Jongste slachtoffer Robert M. was 19 dagen oud". AD (in Dutch). Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- Hanneloes Pen (6 March 2012). "Slachtoffer in zedenzaak boven alles". het Parool (in Dutch). Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- "Dutch prosecutors demand 20-year sentence for man accused of molesting dozens of minors". Star Tribune. 5 April 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2012.
- "Bijna volledige vrijspraak Robert M. gevraagd (Almost full acquittal requested)". de Telegraaf (in Dutch). 16 April 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- "Robert M. in laatste woord: 'Ik had er eigenlijk niet mogen zijn' (Robert M. in last word: I shouldn't have existed)". De Volkskrant (in Dutch). 20 April 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
- "Robert M. krijgt 18 jaar cel en tbs (Robert M. gets 18 years imprisonment and involuntary commitment)". nu.nl (in Dutch)). 21 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
- "Pedofiel Robert Mikelsons gaat in hoger beroep (Pedophile Robert Mikelsons appeals)". Elsevier (in Dutch). 31 May 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- "OM ook in hoger beroep tegen Richard van O.". nu.nl (in Dutch). 1 June 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- "Behandeling zedenzaak wordt voortgezet in november". Novum. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
- "Nieuw psychisch onderzoek naar Robert M" (in Dutch). RTL Nieuws. 2012-11-15. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- door Jules Seegers (2012-11-15). "Eerste zitting hoger beroep Robert M. in Amsterdamse zedenzaak" (in Dutch). nrc.nl. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
- "Roberts M. veroordeeld tot 19 jaar gevangenisstraf en TBS met dwangverpleging" (in Dutch). rechtspraak.nl. 2013-04-26. Retrieved 2013-04-26.
- "Robert M. zet cassette door". Nu.nl (in Dutch). 6 June 2013. Retrieved 6 Jun 2013.
- "Advice Advocate General to Hoge Raad, nr ECLI:NL:PHR:2014:632". rechtspraak.nl. 19 September 2014.
- "Nederland geschokt door ontucht-trio (Netherlands shocked by sex crimes trio)". Hart van Nederland (in Dutch). 13 December 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
- Lex Boon (5 April 2012). "OM eist twintig jaar cel en tbs voor Robert M. (Prosecution demands twenty years imprisonment and involuntary commitment for Robert M.)". NRC (in Dutch). Retrieved 21 April 2012.
- Jikke Zijlstra (1 February 2012). "Minder mannen in kinderopvang (Fewer men in child care)". NOS (in Dutch). Retrieved 21 April 2012.
- "Tientallen mannen uit kinderopvang (Tens of men left child care)". NRC (in Dutch). 1 February 2012. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
- "Arrests in major international child porn investigation". The Washington Post. Associated Press. 4 August 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
Judgments regarding Mikelsons
- ECLI:NL:RBAMS:2012:BW6148, Court of First Instance of Amsterdam (Rechbank Amsterdam)
- ECLI:NL:GHAMS:2013:BZ8885, Court of Appeal of Amsterdam (Gerechtshof Amsterdam)
- ECLI:NL:PHR:2014:632, Opinion of the Advocate-General of the Supreme Court (Hoge Raad)
- ECLI:NL:HR:2014:2668, Supreme Court (Hoge Raad)
Judgment regarding Van Olffen
- ECLI:NL:RBAMS:2012:BW6149, Court of First Instance of Amsterdam (Rechbank Amsterdam)