District of Olpe: Imprisoned eight-year-olds in Attendorn – that is known about the case

This article first appeared on RTL.

District of Olpe: Imprisoned eight-year-olds in Attendorn – that is known about the case

This article first appeared on RTL.de

Two years ago and one year ago, the youth welfare office in the district of Olpe received two anonymous tips. But it wasn't until this summer that things started to move. According to the district of Olpe, in July a couple who had no direct connection to the family passed on information from friends who were sure that the child was being held captive in the grandparents' house. Then it went quickly. On July 14, the Federal Office of Justice was called in, which in turn informed the authorities in Italy.

Then, on September 12th, the astonishing email came to the youth welfare office: the mother never lived in Italy. The police were alerted the next day. On September 23, the child was released after a house search. "The child probably also met the officials, talked to them," said senior public prosecutor Patrick Baron von Grotthuss in an RTL interview.

The department head of the youth welfare office, Michael Färber, said that the clues were followed up immediately. Employees of the authority are said to have brushed off the grandparents at the front door. "There was again a very credible assurance: No, the daughter and grandchild are in Italy. So we had no concrete evidence to doubt the statement." And therefore no legal possibility to enter the house - that was also the assessment of the police at the time.

The mother had deregistered from Attendorn in the summer of 2015 and given an address in Italy as the new place of residence for her and her daughter. But the child's father claims to have seen the woman twice in Attendorn. "She is said to have worn a burqa, presumably to remain anonymous," reports RTL reporter Klaus Felder.

The people in Attendorn are shocked. "I spoke to my grandfather last week," says neighbor Hubert Bender. "But you didn't know what was behind the front door." You can't excuse the act, he has no understanding for that.

The public prosecutor's office in Siegen is investigating the child's mother and grandparents for deprivation of liberty and mistreatment of those under protection. She assumes that they did not allow the girl to "participate in life" for almost seven years - not in daycare, school or playing with other children. The investigation is ongoing, said chief prosecutor Patrick Baron von Grotthuss. The background is still unclear. Mother and grandparents have been silent so far, witnesses were further questioned. If convicted, they face up to ten years in prison.

The investigations also extend to the youth welfare office. "We also have to examine whether the youth welfare office has done everything necessary to uncover the case," explained the senior public prosecutor. It "inevitably raises the question of whether the child could not have been found earlier." Normally, in the village, you quickly know who is coming and going at the neighbors'. It is amazing that the child has not been seen for so many years - and at the same time an indication that the accused acted "very secretly and very carefully".

The motive is open, but everything indicates that the mother wanted to prevent her daughter from having contact with the father, said Farber from the youth welfare office. He turned to the family court, which confirmed custody of both parents in 2016. In the court decision, an Italian address was given as the place of residence of the mother and daughter, which later turned out to be wrong.

How can it be for a child who lived locked up in four walls during the first, formative years of life and only had contact with three adults? There was no evidence of physical abuse or malnutrition when he was released. "The world is now upside down for the child. It will feel like it's on another planet," says Nicole Vergin from the NRW Child Protection Association. The girl's basic needs and basic children's rights to education, play or social contacts were disregarded. This will have an impact on mental, psychological and motor development.

The eight-year-old is housed in a foster family and must first be stabilized mentally, warned social worker Sabine Müller-Kolodziej. Even if the accused are held accountable, the girl should be allowed to deal with them in a supervised manner so as not to uproot her. According to the youth welfare office, the child can read and do arithmetic, but has problems with everyday things like climbing stairs, which it hasn't experienced before. The "Sauerlandkurier" wrote that she had never entered a meadow or seen a forest.

The NRW state parliament will soon deal with the processes: the SPD opposition wants to examine the actions of the authorities. The question of the girl's father is asked: There was probably no relationship between the parents before the birth of the child. According to the Child Protection Association, the main thing is now the gentle accompaniment of the girl on her way to a normal life.