Were cases of abuse covered up at a Viennese school?

An a middle school in the city of Vienna, a teacher abused students for years. About 1,000 former students were contacted this week by a commission from the school board with the news that "there were allegations of assault" that they wanted to "clarify as comprehensively as possible". The case has been known to the authorities since 2019, when a house search was carried out on the teacher and the man committed suicide a few days later. However, the events only became public knowledge in May of this year in the course of reports about another suspected abuse at a Viennese kindergarten.

In May, however, there was still defensive talk that it was certain that acts of abuse had occurred "exclusively outside of school". According to the investigation, however, this is no longer tenable, as the newspaper “Der Standard” reports. There are statements that sexual abuse also took place at school, for example in the gym or during a sports week. He is said to have owned extensive child pornographic material, some of which he produced from his protégés. However, because the alleged perpetrator is no longer alive, the public prosecutor's investigations have been discontinued and the evidence has been destroyed.

The educator had worked at the school since the mid-1990s, as well as a trainer in Viennese sports clubs and as a supervisor at a holiday camp. He is described as popular and was also a tutor. So far, there has been talk of abuse against boys between the ages of nine and 14 since at least 2004.

Police are said to have asked the education authority to exercise restraint

When the case became known in May, the Viennese Education Directorate rejected allegations: The matter was by no means "covered up or kept secret". Rather, the "relevant public" was informed, namely parents, students, college and youth protection authorities. According to the Austria Press Agency, parents and school psychologists had spoken out in favor of "not going out aggressively with it". However, a commission of inquiry was formed. It now says: “The public prosecutor informed us that the incidents took place from 2004 onwards. Therefore, the Education Directorate for Vienna is currently concentrating on this period.”

Initially, the police are also said to have asked the education authorities to exercise restraint after the teacher's suicide so as not to jeopardize investigations. The question was whether there were accomplices or accomplices. The investigative commission set up by the Education Directorate found that the school management or other teachers had not committed any breaches of law. The teacher was apparently not in the talk despite his years of abuse at school. The Viennese schools were then urged to introduce a child protection concept that is evaluated and checked annually.

According to the police investigation, there are at least 25 victims. After a complaint was made, the teacher's home was searched in May 2019. A few days later he committed suicide. According to the "Standard", the details and dimensions of the case have been known to the school and the Vienna Education Directorate since autumn 2019 at the latest. The commission made up of members of the Education Directorate, the Children and Youth Ombudsman and the Child and Youth Welfare Office was set up in 2020. Now around 1,000 former students and former teachers who have worked at the school since 2004 are to receive the letter. It says: "As the school authorities, it is important to us to clarify the circumstances as comprehensively as possible." If former students have any questions or need support, they can contact the appropriate authorities.

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