NIn this case there are still many unanswered questions. But what is known is shocking: an eight-year-old girl is said to have been held in a house in Attendorn in Sauerland for almost her entire life. After being freed, the girl said that she had never seen a forest, been in a meadow or driven in a car, reported the “Sauerlandkurier” on Sunday, citing documents from the children’s clinic in Siegen.
According to the newspaper report, on September 23 the police and the youth welfare office searched the apartment where the girl was imprisoned. She was immediately taken to an emergency care family.
The public prosecutor’s office in Siegen is investigating the child’s mother and grandparents. There is currently no evidence of physical abuse or malnutrition of the girl. “However, we have the situation that the outside world has not seen it,” said senior public prosecutor Patrick Baron von Grotthuss on Saturday of the German Press Agency. The girl allegedly lived in the house in Attendorn for almost seven years without being allowed to leave it. It can articulate itself and walk, although it is “hardly able to climb stairs or overcome bumps in the ground on its own”, Grotthuss is quoted as saying in the “Sauerlandkurier”.
The mother and grandparents, in whose house the family is said to have lived, have not yet given any information. In 2014, the girl’s mother is said to have informed her father, who had been separated from her before she was born, that she wanted to move to Italy with her daughter. In recent years, however, there have been repeated doubts about this. In September 2015, the father told the youth welfare office that he had seen the mother several times in Attendorn. When asked by the youth welfare office, the grandparents said that the daughter lived with the granddaughter in Italy.
Father’s mail is said not to have arrived
According to the newspaper report, the youth welfare office has sent mail to the Italian address in recent years, which has also arrived there. The father, on the other hand, stated that his letters and gifts to his daughter had all been returned unopened. The responsible youth welfare office in the district of Olpe received anonymous tips that at least the mother could be in Attendorn. Attempts by the youth welfare office to contact the grandparents were dismissed. They also refused entry into the house. The police were also not allowed into the house by the grandparents, but they were also unable to present a search warrant. The grandparents “emphatically” refused voluntary inspections of the house with the police, writes the “Sauerlandkurier”, citing the first court documents.
Finally, a relative of the maternal side of the family contacted the police. He stated that he and his wife had recently visited relatives in Italy where the girl and her mother were supposed to be staying. However, the relatives there said that neither of them had ever lived there. In addition, the girl’s mother was reached by phone at the grandparents’ house in Attendorn. The authorities then initiated a search of the apartment.
The mother and grandparents are being investigated for deprivation of liberty and mistreatment of those under protection. Witnesses close to the family are now being questioned. An application to assign a so-called judicial supplementary carer for the child has been made. This should look after the interests of the child. According to von Grotthuss, the next step is to examine the child. With “high probability” they also want to have the mother examined and, if necessary, the other suspects.
Rainer Rettinger from the German Children’s Association, which works to protect children, was shocked by the case. “Questions to the police, public prosecutor’s office and youth welfare office are urgently allowed and necessary,” he told the FAZ. Rettinger calls for a doubling of the staff in the youth welfare offices. One specialist is often responsible for up to 100 families. The German Children’s Association recommends one specialist for a maximum of 30 families “to get to know the children and to be able to guarantee their protection”.