Dutch dentist Jacobus Van Nierop went on trial on Tuesday for allegedly mangling the mouths of up to 120 patients in the rural village of Chateau-Chinon. The dentist, who has been named by the French media as “dentist of horror”, is facing charges of aggravated assault and is accused of leaving multiple patients with broken jaws, recurrent abscesses, and septicemia, according to Time.
The 51-year-old “dentist of horror” faces up to 10 years in prison and a €150,000 ($165,000) fine if charged. Van Nierop had worked in the rural area of France since 2008 where he was welcomed with open arms by the village due to their lack of medical resources. What the town, and the person who head hunted him, did not know was that Van Nierop was already under investigation in the Netherlands for his practices prior to relocating to France.
The “dentist of horror” preyed on residents of the small town from 2008-2013. In 2013, the many victims of Van Nierop set up a support group and rallied to have charges pressed against him. Police arrested Van Nierop in June, but let him roam free until his trial. The “dentist of horror” then fled France to a small Canadian town in New Brunswick where he was eventually tracked down in September 2014 and arrested under an international warrant. Local media reports claim the dentist tried to slit his own throat when the police arrived to arrest him, according to 9News.
French authorities started looking into Van Nierop in 2011 when patients were starting to come forward and compare notes on his dentistry. A small support group of “dentist of horror” survivors quickly grew to 120 people, with each victim having a more terrifying experience than the last, reported 9News.
Sixty-five-year-old victim Sylviane Boulesteix visited Van Nierop in March 2012 to have braces fitted and was left in pain for days.
“He gave me seven or eight injections, and pulled out eight teeth in one go. I was gushing blood for three days.”
Another victim of the “dentist of horror” is 80-year-old Bernard Hugon. He said the dentist left “pieces of flesh hanging everywhere” after tearing out a tooth. Many victims have come forward and claimed the dentist of horrors ripped out perfectly healthy teeth or caused damage to them during procedures.
Nicole Martin, a retired teacher, lost several teeth after visiting Van Nierop due to abscesses caused by the horrific operations performed on her, and recounts the surgery.
“Every time, he would give us what he called ‘a little prick’ and we were asleep, knocked out, when it was over, we would find a Post-it note saying to come back for an appointment the next day or the day after.”
The “dentist of horror” tried to avoid being extradited first to the Netherlands and then to France, and claimed he was crazy. According to Martin, the man who set up the victims’ group and Van Nierops fromer assistant, Van Nierop said anything to avoid extradition.
“He claimed to have killed his first wife, he acted crazy, he said he was transsexual. He tried everything,” Martin said.
Van Nierop himself told the court, “I was not in the right state to put myself in my patients’ position.”
The court heard conflicting evidence about Van Nierop’s psychological state. One psychiatrist found that the Dutchman was “perfectly aware of what he was doing,” while the other found he had “narcissistic tendencies” and was therefore unable to make a moral judgement. Van Nierop was eventually placed in a prison psychiatric unit south of Paris.
Aside from being charged with aggravated assault, the “dentist of horrors” is also accused of defrauding patients and insurance companies according to the BBC.
The trial in Nevers will last until March 18.
[Photo by Aloys Oosterwijk/Getty Images]