The trial of a Dutch dentist, otherwise known as the “dentist of horror,” is set to appear in court on Tuesday after allegedly mutilating the mouths of more than 100 patients in France.
Jacobus Van Nierop, 51, who went by the name Mark Van Nierop, was brought to the small French town Château-Chinon in 2008. According to witness reports, Van Nierop, was originally welcomed by locals, as the rural area was in desperate need of medical services.
However, locals were not aware of Van Nierop’s history. He had been stripped of his dental license due to a failure to live up to conventional dentistry standards.
Victims recount their harrowing experiences with the dentist
Sylviane Boulesteix, 65, went to Van Nierop in March 2012 to have her braces fitted. “He gave me seven or eight injections, and pulled out eight teeth in one go. I was gushing blood for three days,” she told sources.
Bernard Hugon, 80 year old, claimed the dentist left “pieces of flesh hanging everywhere” after ripping out her tooth.
And according to Nicole Martin, a retired school teacher who lost several teeth from the dentist’s incompetence, said “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,” she added.
Martin started a victim’s group in early 2013 to press charges against the dentist. The group grew to encompass 120 members. Van Nierop was arrested in June 2013 and banned from leaving France that year. Nevertheless, he fled to Canada in December 2013 and was finally arrested under international warrant in September 2014.
When dental goes mental
According to local media reports, Van Nierop attempted to slit his throat when police arrested him. He claimed to have been suffering from psychological problems, including a gender identity crisis and suicidal tendencies. He was placed in a prison psychiatric unit in the Loiret department, according to the Guardian.
“He claimed to have killed his first wife, he played crazy, he said he was trans-sexual. He tried everything” to avoid extradition, Martin said.
Van Nierop is charged with aggravated assault and fraud due to claims that he tried to scam patients and insurance companies. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a €150,000 ($165,000) fine if deemed guilty. Allegations made against Van Nierop include scheduling gratuitous appointments, incorrectly using equipment, attending to multiple patients at once and an overuse of anesthetics.
Another former patient, Thérèse Zbinden, claims she spent 32,000 euros on dental care while seeing Van Nierop between 2009 and 2012. Other patients received invoices for dental work that had never been performed.
Despite numerous reports, none of Van Nierop’s former patients have received compensation for their misfortune. Van Nierop was unable to pay off his debt and was dropped by his insurance company in 2015.
In addition to due compensation, the former patients are demanding stricter standards when it comes to hiring foreign dentists and doctors. Martin pleaded with the government to “quickly put in place some proper national guidelines.” The patients also requested that officials thoroughly review the qualifications and background history of all candidates prior to letting them practice in France.
Lawyers for the patients say it is unlikely that they will receive compensation since Van Nierop is both bankrupt and not insured to practice.