Published August 26, 2011
VIENNA – Austrian prosecutors investigating allegations that an 80-year-old man sexually abused his two mentally disabled daughters for 41 years said Friday that no children were born of the incestuous relationship.
The question is relevant because of parallels to the case of Austrian Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned his daughter in a windowless cellar for 24 years and repeatedly raped her, fathering her seven children. Fritzl was sentenced to life imprisonment two years ago for that crime and for responsibility in the death of one of the children.
But state prosecutor Alois Ebner said that questioning of the 80-year-old's two daughters and other leads had not turned up any indications of offspring.
The man -- from the Upper Austrian village of St. Peter am Hart -- is suspected of assault, torture or neglect of defenseless individuals, threat to life or physical condition, rape and other sex crimes.
Despite being questioned weeks ago about the allegations, he had been free and living in a senior citizens' home until police detained him Thursday. On Friday, an investigative judge ordered that he remain in custody pending continued investigations.
Police said the man's daughters -- now 53 and 45-years-old -- have accused him of repeatedly raping them at their home between 1970 and May 2011. The women said their father frequently warned he would kill them if they resisted, occasionally threatening them with firearms and beating them with a stick and a pitchfork, police said.
They also said that their mother, who died three years ago, was also repeatedly abused by the suspect.
The father has denied the accusations.
Police have not identified the suspect or his daughters. But a village resident who refused to give his name, said the father worked as a road maintenance worker for the region.
The women told police that they escaped when their father fell and was unable to get up after the older daughter pushed him during the last attempted rape.
It was unclear why it took for so long for the allegations to become public.
Police were initially quoted as saying the daughters did not tell anyone about the alleged abuse until weeks after their escape. But authorities later said a social worker who discovered the father two days after he fell went to police a few days later, after the women had told her their story.
Police and local media originally said the suspect had kept the victims locked in a small room for 41 years, but later revised that version, suggesting they had limited freedom of movement even though all three slept in one small room of their spacious and well-kept dwelling,
"They were seen in and around the house," local police commander Martin Pumberger told state broadcaster ORF. "But the daughters were prohibited from any and all social contact."
Pumberger said that the women's accusations "are believable," adding that they "are relieved that they were able to speak about their decades-long martyrdom."