New details emerge in ‘worst child sexual abuse scandal in German history’

Horrific details have come to light in the Lügde trailer park child sexual abuse investigation, including that children were forced to abuse each other.

New details emerge in ‘worst child sexual abuse scandal in German history’
The partially demolished dwelling of the alleged perpetrator in Lügde. Photo: DPA

Earlier in 2019, news began to emerge of an organized child pornography ring located at a trailer park in Lügde, North Rhine-Westphalia. 

Two men are said to have carried out child sexual abuse, filming the abuse and distributing it online. More than 40 victims have been identified, with the abuse taking place since the 1990s. 

READ: Police 'failures' probed in the 'largest child abuse scandal in German history'

Reports in the Westfalen-Blatt have shed further light on the nature of the abuse, including that the accused men forced the children to abuse each other. 

A new round of police interviews

A series of interviews with the victims, some of them still children, has taken place over the past weeks. The new information has emerged from these interviews. 

Peter Wüller, a lawyer for four of the victims, told the Westfalen-Blatt that reading the victims’ statements was challenging. 

“It’s hard to read the children’s statements without emotion,” he said. 

“If I look at the faces of the little ones and I read what’s been done to them, I feel sick.

“What happened in Lügde is beyond any idea.”

The older of the two men, known as Andreas V (56) due to German privacy standards, worked together with his accomplice Mario S (34) to engage in the activity and produce the videos. 

The caravan where some of the alleged abuse is said to have taken place. Image: DPA

‘The largest abuse scandal in German history’

As reported by The Local in April, the case has gripped the nation’s attention over the past two months – both for the severity of the crimes and the subsequent failures of the police investigation. 

Police had been alerted to instances of abuse in the caravan park, but failed to properly investigate. Only a handful of phone interviews were undertaken, with no further efforts to follow up on the reports.  

The failures did not end there. Once the crimes had been detected, a suitcase full of evidence went missing from a police storage locker. 

Two police officers from the Detmold squad were stood down from duty and are being investigated for obstruction of justice offences. 

The SPD’s Hartmut Ganzke has previously called for North Rhine-Westphalia's Interior Minister Herbert Reul to resign, calling the incidents “the largest abuse scandal in the history of the country”. 

A new investigative team

Wüller has praised the current investigative team, particularly their handling of the victim interview process. 

“The children were very sensitively and patiently questioned,” he said. “They were able to provide very detailed information and they can easily differentiate between the two main defendants.”

Wüller said that the missing evidence was of course problematic, but the detailed and precise nature of the questioning meant that a conviction was likely.

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Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.