Authorities were aware of hidden girl

Authorities were aware of hidden girl
The home where the 13-year-old was kept hidden. Photo: DPA
The case of a 13-year-old Brandenburg girl who had been locked up for years by her parents took a turn Wednesday after it came to light that authorities knew she had not attended school for at least four years.

A neighbour in the town of Lübbenow reported the family on July 15, and the girl was taken to a nearby clinic by the Uckermark county authorities and put into protective custody, spokesperson Ramona Fischer said. The case was first reported Wednesday.

The girl, identified as 13-year-old Jennifer, displays autistic tendencies and has never attended school, said county commissioner Klemens Schmitz in an interview with public broadcaster RBB.

The mayor of Uckerland, Christine Wernicke, said Wednesday that local authorities had been aware that Jennifer had not been registered for school for at least four years. The youth office in nearby Prenzlau had been informed of the matter but apparently did not respond.

Doctors are examining Jennifer, who shows no signs of physical neglect, Fischer said. Youth services also took her two other siblings into custody.

Neighbours of the family in Lübbenow, who wished to remain unnamed, reported having practically no contact with the family. Only one woman told reporters that she had sometimes seen the other two children playing near their home.

Schmitz said the case indicated serious malpractice by the youth office, adding he wanted to lead an immediate investigation into the matter and to improve the coordination between the local school, health and resident registration offices.

Meanwhile the state prosecutor’s office in Neuruppin is investigating Jennifer’s parents for neglecting their parental duties.

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