Published On: Thu, Oct 18th, 2018

Higher prison sentence in appeal for self-proclaimed apostle

Orlando-Belantina-pastoor-apostel-Rains-of-Blessings-kerkWILLEMSTAD - The Common Court of Justice today has sentenced the 54-year-old man Orlando Balentin to a prison sentence of 14 years for a series of sexual offenses committed with young female members of his church community. The man was also banned by the Court from his profession of church leader for the duration of 19 years.

Statement of the suspect

At the hearing on appeal, the defendant made a substantive statement for the first time. In addition, he certainly denied all accusations. According to him, there is a plot to put him and his church out of the game. From the churches 'New Song' and 'House of Worship' ex-members of his church were approached and instructed to make false statements against him. With regard to one of the accusers, he believes that the accusation may also stem from revenge from her mother, who would accuse him of her separation from her husband.

The Court considers this statement by the defendant to be unbelievable. The suspect has not brought forward anything that detracts from the trustworthiness and credibility of the accusers. On the contrary, even with his statement, that reliability and credibility are gaining momentum.

Parts of an audio recording, one of the means of proof, which one of the accusers secretly made, were played by the Court at the hearing. It is then stated that the accused asks the person to forgive him for immoral acts. The defendant has stated that the immoral act for which he has asked forgiveness was a hug during one of the services of the church. That hug caused him, he claimed, to develop sexual feelings for him. According to the Bible, the accused should ask for forgiveness for this "religious error". The Court has heard this statement with amazement as is being considered in the verdict. After all, there is no mention of this in the entire conversation, in fact, many passages in the conversation indicate that it was indeed about a sexual relationship and / or sexual acts between the suspect and the complainant. Moreover, during the interview, the suspect did not make any effort to contradict the accusations made by the complainant. The conclusion of the Court is that in the statement of the defendant he has only admitted a "religious error" must be referred to the realm of fables.

With regard to this audio recording, the Court considers further in the judgment that this recording gives a mind-boggling insight into the refined way in which he manages to rid the complainant of every sense of self-respect and to completely blame her. The Court greatly attributes the accused to this accusatory attitude towards the victims.

Higher punishment despite changed morals legislation

The Court of First Instance had imposed a prison sentence on the defendant for a period of 9 years. Like the Court of First Instance, the Court finds that the current Criminal Code has reduced the maximum sentence for a number of proven facts. Contrary to the view taken by the Court of First Instance, the Court considers that this lowered maximum is not yet a reason for a reduction in the penalty to be imposed. The legislator has explicitly stated that the reduction of the maximum sentence does not have to do with the punishability of the facts in question, but rather with the more mutual balancing of the different criminal threats in the new Penal Code. Moreover, it does not alter the fact that the maximum sentence, in this case, is a prison sentence for the duration of 20 years.

The Court is of the opinion that the imposed sentence cannot suffice and that the 12-year sentence required in appeal also does insufficient justice to the gravity of the facts. When abusing so many young victims in this way for such a long time, imprisonment for the duration of 14 years applies. The maximum disqualification from his profession of a church leader, 19 years, is also considered appropriate.

The suspect and the public prosecutor have 14 days to file their case at the Supreme Court in the Netherlands.

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