Drenthe Hermits

An online religious community led by a man who completely isolated and abused his children for almost a decade

late 1990s - 2019

John Eagles (Founder)

The Drenthe Hermits was an abusive cult existing right under the nose of a small community.

In 2019, a 25-year-old man went into a local pub and said that he had run away, had never been to school, and needed help. It was discovered that his father was a spiritual leader "John Eagles," who had over 3,500 online followers. Investigations revealed that John had moved his six children to a farm and kept them isolated for ten years, where he abused them and his followers outside the commune.

Even though Eagles had such a significant online presence, no one knew he lived there. Only one of the residents had ever left the commune and only did so at night; Eagles had stopped talking to his family in the 1980s; and the landlords did not know that multiple people were living in their house. The family lived self-sufficiently out of a hidden room and only communicated with the world through the internet.

After his son left to get help, authorities rescued the children, and Eagles is currently under investigation.

Religion: New Age

Founder: Gerrit Jan van D. ("John Eagles")

Founded: Late 1990s; lived on the farm since 2010

Ended: 2019

Location: Ruinerwold, Netherlands; Online

Size: 3,500 (online followers) 

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