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Children's home victim demands 1 million

The scandal involving sex abuse and torture of a number of former foster children has taken a new turn after a 44-year-old man rejected a 20,000 Euro compensation offer and announced plans to soon for more than 1 million Euros in damages.

Documents leaked last year revealed that dozens of young girls at a public foster home in the capital Vienna were systematically raped in the 1970s, and a commission has been set up to look into allegations of abuse has uncovered other cases including some outside of Vienna.

Those that have come forward include more than 30 former foster children that have so far alleged they were both physically and emotionally abused at Schloss Wilhelminenberg, a public foster home which is now closed.

In the current legal case involving a different home in Upper Austria the man was 12 years old in 1979 when he was put into the children's home at Leonstein in Kirchdorf. As one of five children his mother was unable to cope with her family and he spent four years in the home. He says they were four years filled with beatings from the managers as well as sexual assaults from the staff and often being given too little to eat. Sometimes he was locked up for a whole week at a time.

He had never spoken about the problem but then broke his silence when the commission appealed for victims to get in touch. He was offered 20,000 in compensation but said it was not enough for his suffering.

He is now demanding the province of Upper Austria pay him 1.1 million.

The defence of provincial health chiefs  however has been to say that the claim is now too dated to be acted upon.

The scandal was first reported when the Austrian newspaper Kurier published an interview with two sisters, now aged 49 and 47, who came to the Vienna orphanage when they were six and eight years old.

The sisters, using the pseudonyms Eva and Julia, said both male and female staff at the house were involved in the abuse. "There were several men and several women. In the room there were 20 girls. Each one had her turn," said Eva. "We never talked about it at the home because the shame was so great and the excruciating pain from what they did to us."

Eva and Julia said the abuse went on for years and involved multiple groups of young girls. "Sometimes [they raped us] on one day and then we had one or two weeks of rest," Eva told the newspaper. The women believe people from outside the house also paid to have sex with them.

The sisters gave graphic details about the alleged sexual abuse which took place in the 1970s. "I've heard my sister screaming because there was a man who dragged her by her hair and then raped her," Julia said.

Eva further told the newspaper that she once secretly visited Wilhelminenberg's infirmary because she was bleeding heavily after being raped. "The doctor started touching me there, asked what I wanted and laughed saying, 'You're not a virgin anymore,'" the sister recalled.

While the investigation into historic physical and emotional abuse at children's homes in Vienna is still ongoing, the city has already provided compensation to the 31 former foster children who have come forward. These payments range from 5,000 euros ($6,865) for less serious cases to 25,000 euros ($34,320) for continued abuse over multiple years.

Both Eva and Julia were given more than 25,000 euros ($34,320) in compensation, but it is unlikely that anyone will be prosecuted because of statute limitations. In addition, many of those allegedly responsible are likely dead by now.

Vienna Times

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