• Olympics 2024 - Paris - Convicted Child Rapist Qualifies For Dutch Olympics’ Beach Volleyball Team

    June 28, 2024
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    The Dutch Olympic volleyball team is sending a convicted child rapist as one of its teammates to Paris next month.

    Dutch beach volleyball player Steven Van de Velde, 29, who was convicted of raping a 12 year-old girl in England when he was 19, has qualified for the upcoming Summer Olympics. 

    Since his conviction, Van de Velde has been placed on the U.K. sex offender registry for life.

    Today, Van de Velde is married and a father of a two-year-old child.

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    In August 2014, when he was 19, he raped a 12-year-old child he met on Facebook, Skype, and SnapChat while he lived in The Netherlands and she lived just outside of London. 

    At the time, he boasted to the victim that he was a Dutch volleyball player and represented his country. She told Van de Velde she was seven years younger than he was. 

    The convicted rapist then travelled from The Netherlands to Milton Keyes, just outside London on Saturday, August 2, 2014, when the victim had no parental supervision. He plied the 12 year-old with alcohol, and then raped her several times at her home as well as by a nearby lake. The victim would eventually fall into self-harm behavior and once overdosed. 

    Van de Velde was later arrested, extradited to the UK, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to four years in prison. He was transferred back to the Netherlands and resentenced under Dutch law. Van de Verld was released in 2017 after serving one year in prison in The Netherlands.

    At the time of Van De Velde’s conviction, Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had alot to say. 

    “The victim was befriended by Steven Van De Velde via social media, mainly Skype, Facebook and Snap Chat. After a few months of chatting almost every day, Van De Velde travelled to the UK from Holland on 2 August 2014, and raped the young girl before travelling home again on 3 August 2014. She trusted him and believed he loved her, but, due to her age, was in absolutely no position to give true and free consent to the sexual acts,” stated Foster.

    “The convictions and today’s sentence serve as an important message to people who have been the victim of crimes such as these, or those that know such crimes are being committed, that they should come forward so that the attackers can be brought to justice and others can be saved from the horrific ordeal of abuse. The CPS will work closely with partners, as we did with Thames Valley Police in this case, to ensure that robust criminal cases are put before the courts,” Foster added. 

    “The emotional impact on the victim and her family of the abhorrent actions of this man is impossible to quantify. I hope that the convictions and today’s sentence gives some small comfort to them. Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time,” the prosecutor noted. 

    Now, that Van de Velde is going to Paris, he too is making his own statements. 

    "I understand that in the run-up to the biggest sporting event in the world, this can attract the attention of international media," Van de Velde said in a statement posted on the Netherlands Volleyball Federation's website. "I cannot reverse it, so I will have to bear the consequences. It has been the biggest mistake of my life."

    The Dutch Volleyball Federation (Nevobo) has supported his inclusion in the Olympics.

    "We know Steven's history. Before he expressed his desire to return to beach volleyball, we spoke extensively with him, as well as with [the Dutch Sports Federation] and the international volleyball federation FIVB," said Michel Everaert, general director at Nevobo.

    The Dutch Olympic Committee has stood by its decision to nominate Van de Velde for the national team. The organization has maintained that the decision lies with the national volleyball federation, which has opted not to impose further sanctions on him.

    "Van de Velde now meets all the qualification requirements for the Olympic Games and is therefore part of the team," the committee said.

    Since his release, van de Velde has been actively competing. He has participated in several notable tournaments, including Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour events. 

    The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) condemned the volleyball federation's decision, highlighting what they said was Van de Velde's lack of remorse and the potential message it sends about accountability and rehabilitation.



    Christine Dolan

    Christine Dolan is a seasoned Investigative Journalist, television producer, author, and photographer. She is Co-Founder of American Conversations whose format focuses on in-depth analysis of critical issues about “the story behind the headlines.”
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