2 ‘The Voice of Holland’ ex-stars face sex offense charges

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Two former stars of “The Voice of Holland” will be charged with sex offenses linked to the once-popular Dutch talent show, prosecutors said Tuesday. A case was dropped against a third man for lack of evidence.

The show was taken off the air more than a year ago after a sexual misconduct scandal hit the TV ratings juggernaut in one of the most serious #MeToo reckonings to hit the Dutch entertainment world.

The show was first aired in the Netherlands before local versions were spun off around the world.

Prosecutors said that a 41-year-old man will be prosecuted for sexual offenses with three women in 2014 and 2018 in the Netherlands and another country. One of the cases is linked to The Voice of Holland. A fourth case, also linked to the show, was dropped.

A 51-year-old man also will be prosecuted for a sexual offense that allegedly happened in February 2018 “in or around the recording studios where The Voice of Holland was recorded,” prosecutors said in a statement.

They did not elaborate on the nature of the charges against the two men.

The statement did not identify either man, in line with Dutch privacy rules. Dutch media, including the RTL network that aired the show, identified the 41-year-old as the rapper and Voice coach Ali Bouali, and the 51-year-old as the show’s pianist and band leader, Jeroen Rietbergen.

Bouali’s lawyer, Bart Swier, said last year that the rapper denied any wrongdoing.

Rietbergen quit the show and said in a statement last year that he had “contact of a sexual nature with some women involved in the program and exchanged sexually tinted WhatsApp messages.”

Rietbergen went on to say that after initially considering the sexual encounters “as reciprocal and equal,” he later came to understand that the women “may have experienced this very differently.”

He added: “This insight has made me realize that my behavior has been completely wrong.”

It was not yet clear when the two would face trial. Under the Dutch legal system, their defense lawyers can ask prosecutors to pursue further investigations before trial.

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