Multiple women came forward over the weekend with sexual misconduct allegations against Jeroen Rietbergen, the band leader on the popular singing competition show The Voice of Holland. The originator of the United States’ massive spinoff The Voice, the Dutch version previously expanded to 150 countries worldwide before sexual misconduct claims.
Suspended as investigators look into claims made against three separate ITV Studios employees, The Voice of Holland executives announced it would look into what happened behind the scenes.
Shortly after news broke that the show was suspended indefinitely, band leader Jeroen Rietbergen resigned and stated that he was guilty of inappropriate behavior.
In an official statement, the 50-year-old admitted that he had “contact of a sexual nature” with women involved with the series, and that he also “exchanged sexually tinted WhatsApp messages” with some of them.
“I have now become very aware that my own perception is not relevant at all, but much more the perception of the women concerned,” Jeroen Rietbergen continued. “These women may have experienced this very differently.”
Other than being the show’s now-former band leader, Rietbergen is also Linda de Mol’s husband, making him the brother-in-law to The Voice of Holland‘s creator, John de Mol.
According to his official statement, the family was apparently aware of his misconduct for years and kept knowledge of the incidents from the public as the band leader kept his role on the show.
“From the moment I was strictly addressed by my client about my behavior, I then informed my wife with great shame,” Jason Rietbergen admitted. “As a result, our relationship ended and we broke up, with great sadness for my family.”
The two eventually reconciled and are still together, according to the band leader, but not without “[difficulty] for my wife.”
Despite Rietbergen’s claims, ITV Studios maintains the show was never aware of any sexual misconduct and has since announced an external investigation.
“Our utmost priority is to provide a safe and supportive environment for everyone who takes part in or works on our shows and there is zero tolerance at ITV Studios for the type of behavior alleged to have taken place,” the broadcaster said.
Dutch rapper Ali B, who serves as one of the show’s vocal judges and coaches, also faces allegations of sexual misconduct according to BBC News, as well as a third unnamed employee at The Voice of Holland.
Responding to the claims, a spokesman for Ali B stated that “Ali has never abused his position and has never acted in a sexually transgressive way.” The Dutch rapper commented on Instagram saying he is “100% convinced” that he is innocent.
Anouk, a Dutch singer-songwriter who served as a judge alongside Ali B and Jeroen Rietbergen, later claimed that they would not be returning to the show if it comes back on the air.
Writing on Instagram, she said that, “I don’t want to work in a place where a number of men have abused their position for years and where it has been deliberately chosen to keep it quiet and look the other way.”
“That is really not possible… you really have a structural problem,” the singer continued. “I don’t want to be part of that.”
T-Mobile, one of the show’s sponsors, has also dropped the competition, as well as supermarket chain Lidl.
“I think everybody is very shocked and it’s good that it is investigated,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte told De Telegraaf.
According to ABC News, the controversy on The Voice of Holland is one of the largest #MeToo reckonings to hit the Netherlands’ entertainment industry.