Forty Years in Captivity: Austrian Man Allegedly Abused Daughters for Decades

A fresh abuse scandal shocked Austrians on Thursday when police revealed that a father ina small villagehad allegedly held his daughters prisoner for more than 40 years, sexually abusing them repeatedly. The case came to light only by chance, and the alleged perpetrator has been arrested.

The suspect's home in St. Peter am Hart. Zoom
REUTERS

The suspect's home in St. Peter am Hart.

An 80-year-old Austrian man has been arrested on suspicion of holding his two daughters captive for more than four decades, a police spokesman in Linz reported on Thursday. Between 1970 and May 2011, the man allegedly raped both women repeatedly, he said.

State prosecutors are now investigating what happened to the two women, now 53 and 45, in their home in the tiny Upper Austrian community of St. Peter am Hart. Their father, who denies the charges, was initially spared arrest, though authorities issued a restraining order forbidding him from entering his home or contacting his daughters. Later on Thursday the state prosecutor's office announced he had been arrested.

According to police, they discovered the case through happenstance. When the father attempted to rape his elder daughter in May of this year, she defended herself, causing him to fall. Unable to get up or call for help on his own, the two women left him where he fell, refusing to offer him any assistance.

He only received medical help two days later when the two women confided in a social worker, who went on to file a report with police, they said. Their father was then treated in a hospital, before being taken to a care home, and then jail.

Tiny Village 'Shocked'

Both women are suffering emotional stress and are being looked after by social services. Investigators said that they had been forced to live in a single room of their home for years, sleeping on only a narrow wooden bench. Their father allegedly forbade them all contact to the outside world and regularly threatened them with weapons and death.

His wife, who died three years ago, was also allegedly abused by the man. All three women were reportedly so frightened of him that they didn't contact police.

The 2,400 residents of the tiny community of St. Peter am Hart, located near Braunau where Adolf Hitler was born, are "very shocked," the mayor told Austrian news agency APA. If someone had known, they would have "sounded the alarm," he added.

In April 2008 Austria was rocked by an internationally covered abuse scandal when then 42-year-old Elisabeth Fritzl revealed to police that her father had kepted her locked in his basement and raped her repeatedely over a period of 24 years. She bore seven of his children as a result. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in March 2009.

kla --with wire reports

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