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27th Jun 2024

Volleyball player convicted of raping a 12-year-old set to compete in Paris Olympics

Harry Warner

He travelled to the UK to commit the crime.

A beach volleyball player from the Netherlands who has previously been convicted for raping a 12-year-old child is set to compete in the Paris Olympic games next month.

Steven van de Velde, now 29, received a four years sentence in 2016 after admitting three counts of rape against a child, which took place in August 2014.

However, the athlete only served 12 months of the sentence before he was released.

Van de Velde met his victim on Facebook and then proceeded to travel from Amsterdam to the UK where he committed the crime in Milton Keynes.

The Dutchman returned to the Netherlands before being extradited five months later and in February 2016 appeared at Aylesbury Crown Court via a video link for sentencing after admitting all three offences.

During the sentencing, Judge Francis Sheridan told Van de Velde: “Prior to coming to this country you were training as a potential Olympian. Your hopes of representing your country now lie as a shattered dream.”

Van de Velde has competed in international tournaments since 2018 “following an intensive, professionally supervised trajectory” the Dutch Olympic Committee (NOC) said.N

Now the 29 year-old has qualified for the Olympics in his national pair with partner Matthew Immers to compete in the beach volleyball event.

Speaking in the past to Dutch media, Van de Velde said: “I can’t reverse it, so will have to bear the consequences. It has been the biggest mistake of my life.”

The Dutch Olympic Committee (NOC) told the BBC: “After his release, Van de Velde sought and received professional counselling. He demonstrated to those around him – privately and professionally – self-insight and reflection.”

The committee has said that the volleyball player has met all guidelines set out in the Dutch Volleyball Federation’s “Guidelines Integrity Record” which details coditions for the return to competition of convicted athletes.

In 2017 Van de Velde said: “I do want to correct all the nonsense that has been written about me when I was locked up. I did not read any of it, on purpose, but I understand that it was quite bad, that I have been branded as a sex monster, as a paedophile. That I am not, really not.

“Everyone can have their opinion about me, but it is only fair if they also know my side of the story.”

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