10 years ago, Steven van de Velde raped a minor. Next month, he's competing in the Olympics.

With the Paris 2024 Olympics just a month away, the event is already embroiled in significant controversy.

In addition to Parisians protesting the event by sh*tting in the Seine, it has now come to light that Dutch Olympic officials have allowed volleyball player Steven van de Velde to compete this year.

The decision doesn't sound controversial, until you find out that van de Velde was convicted in 2016 for the rape of a 12-year-old British schoolgirl, in what was described as a "planned, calculated" assault.

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The athlete, now 29, was sentenced to four years in prison for the crime but was released after one year. Despite widespread criticism, he has been chosen to represent the Netherlands at the Olympic Games.

"We know Steven’s history," said Michel Everaert, a general director at the Dutch Volleyball Federation, Nevobo, in a statement.

"He was convicted at the time according to English law and he has served his sentence. From then on, we have been in constant contact with Steven, who has now been fully reintegrated into the Dutch volleyball community."

The federation doubled down on their decision, saying van de Velde was "proving to be an exemplary professional and human being and there has been no reason to doubt him since his return."


What crime did Steven van de Velde commit?

10 years ago, van de Velde met a 12-year-old British girl on Facebook. Despite knowing her age, the volleyball player travelled from Amsterdam to the UK and raped her at a home in Milton Keynes, per the Milton Keynes Citizen.

The publication reports it was only when she went to get the morning-after pill, at van de Velde's request, that authorities were alerted, due to her young age. 

The crime was deemed so severe and appalling that the sentencing judge conveyed to van de Velde that his Olympic dreams were "shattered" as a result of the conviction.

During the hearing, van de Velde was told that his victim had self-harmed and taken an overdose after the rape.

However, it increasingly appears that van de Velde has been given somewhat of a free pass, as the Dutch volleyball federation has expressed its "full support" for him.

Following his conviction in March 2016, van de Velde served part of his sentence in England before being transferred to the Netherlands. 

He was released and resumed playing in 2017, just a year later.

Van de Velde himself has released a statement ahead of the games, saying: "I understand that in the run-up to the biggest sporting event in the world, this can attract the attention of international media."

"Because of the second chance I got from my parents, my friends, acquaintances and colleagues, who accepted me again after the biggest misstep of my then young life," he said.


But this isn't the first time he's addressed it. In 2018, van de Velde told national broadcaster NOS: "I did what I did. I can’t take it back, so I will have to carry the consequences. You can judge, of course."

Upon his release in 2017, van de Velde was not always remorseful for his actions. He protested being labelled "a sex monster, a pedophile" and dismissed comments about his crime as "nonsense," as reported by The Telegraph

The decision has sparked widespread outrage, and rightfully so, with survivors of sexual assault feeling deeply betrayed and dismissed. 

"The fact that van de Velde is allowed to continue his career after admitting 'the biggest mistake of his life' is further endorsement of the shocking toleration we have of child sexual abuse," The Survivors Trust told Sky News in a statement. 

"The rape of a child was planned, calculated involving international travel and will undoubtedly cause his victim lifelong trauma, irreversibly changing the course of her life.

"As a society we have to start embracing a zero-tolerance approach to this heinous and costly crime.

"His lack of remorse and empathy for his victim is chilling and the allowance of his colleagues and the Olympic committee to promote him to a young audience as a sports person to look up to and therefore by implication is deeply disturbing."

Van de Velde is scheduled to compete alongside his volleyball partner Matthew Immers as part of one of the two men's Dutch beach volleyball teams next month. 


Who is Steven van de Velde's wife?

With intense scrutiny on his professional career, curiosity has naturally turned to van de Velde's personal life.

Steven is married to Kim van de Velde, a professional German volleyball player who also serves as a policewoman. Together, they have a son.

Steven frequently appears on Kim's social media, and the couple has been together for six years. However, due to negative comments, Kim has restricted comments on posts featuring Steven.

Feature Image: Getty.