The Dutch version of “The Voice” has been suspended pending an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations surrounding the popular talent series.
Dutch broadcasting company RTL said it will stop airing the show while it carries out an investigation with producers ITV into allegations of “sexually inappropriate behavior” and “abuse of power,” according to a statement released by RTL over the weekend.
Among those facing accusations is “The Voice” bandleader Jeroen Rietbergen, who has resigned from his post and issued an apology.
RTL, an affiliate of CNN, said it was notified of the allegations at “The Voice of Holland” on January 12 by the Dutch TV news program BOOS. RTL said it was previously unaware of misconduct allegations.
“We take this extremely seriously. Participants, colleagues, everyone must be able to work in complete safety. There is no room for interpretation in that. The priority is now to get the facts on the table,” Saturday’s statement added.
BOOS said in a statement that it received stories in spring 2021 about sexually inappropriate behavior at “The Voice of Holland.”
BOOS show host Tim Hofman subsequently issued an open call, where he asked if there were other people who had experienced “something inappropriate at talent shows.”
“Numerous reactions followed from people who said they were victim or witness to abuse of power or sexually inappropriate behavior at ‘The Voice,’” the BOOS statement said.
Those accused of misconduct were approached by BOOS, the show said. One of these was Rietbergen.
In a statement reported by RTL, Rietbergen said: “During my years-long involvement with ‘The Voice of Holland’ I had contact of a sexual nature with some women involved in the program and exchanged sexually colored WhatsApp messages.
“My involvement with ‘The Voice of Holland’ was as a pianist and bandleader. In my opinion there was no position of power at the time, in my position I am not in a position to favor anyone on the program, I am solely concerned with the music. I saw the contacts as reciprocal and equal.”
Rietbergen added: “In the intervening time I have become very aware that my own perception is not relevant at all, but much more the perception of the women concerned. And that these women may have experienced this very differently. This insight has made me realize that my behavior was completely wrong. The things that I have done I should never have done.”
Rietbergen, who said he has had professional help, said he has “drastically and permanently” changed his behavior. He said that he will immediately stop working for the series.
“I am more sorry for everything than I can express in this statement,” Rietbergen added.
BOOS added that the allegations concern Rietbergen, as well as “multiple people within the program.”
ITV Studios said in a statement to CNN Tuesday: “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 behaviour alleged to have taken place.”
On Monday, Dutch Justice Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius urged anyone who has been a victim of sexual intimidation or violence to file a report so the police and Public Prosecution Service can start an investigation. The Public Prosecution Service is responsible for investigating and prosecuting criminal offenses.
The Dutch reality singing contest sparked the original format of the show in 2010, where judges sit with their chairs facing away from the stage, so that they initially cannot see prospective candidates.
If the judges like the sound of a candidate’s voice, they must press their button, which spins their chair towards the stage to reveal the contestant behind the blind audition.
The series has since been iterated in countries including the UK, the US and Australia, where previous coaches include global artists such as will.i.am, Kylie Minogue, Ariana Grande and John Legend.
A program about sexual misconduct at “The Voice of Holland” is scheduled to air on Thursday, BOOS added.