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Germany

German teenagers own up to sexual abuse of younger boys

German police are investigating the alleged sexual abuse of at least six teenage boys at a summer camp in the Netherlands. Staff reportedly failed to intervene after being told of the abuse.

A view of Ameland with a lighthouse in the background

The camp was located on the secluded North Sea island of Ameland

Three German teenagers have admitted to having sexually abused younger boys at a summer camp on the Dutch island of Ameland.

Police in the German city of Osnabrueck are investigating the incident, which is alleged to have taken place during a trip organized by its municipal sports association.

According to a police statement, at least six 13-year-olds were forced into the center of a large dormitory and assaulted using bottles and other objects. Up to 13 older boys are suspected of having perpetrated the attacks. Three have confessed during questioning so far, the Osnabrueck prosecutor’s office confirmed on Thursday. One is 14 years old, another 15 and the third has turned 16 since the incident.

Staff role questioned

Osnabrueck’s mayor, Boris Pistorius, said that he was "horrified by the sickening deeds." Wolfgang Wellmann, head of Osnabrueck’s municipal sports association, expressed his shock and apologized for the incident.

The reaction of his staff is also now under investigation, after they allegedly failed to intervene when told of the assaults, and did not report them after returning to Osnabrueck. Police began inquiries after the mother of one of the victims informed them the day after the children arrived back home.

Over 200 children aged between eight and 16 stayed on Ameland, an idyllic Dutch island, between June 25 and July 8. Osnabrueck’s sports association has run similar summer camps for many years.

A lesson for parents

Around 40 boys were staying in the dormitory in question. Many others were allegedly targeted, but resisted by clinging on to their beds or escaped via a fire escape.

Germany’s child protection agency has called the revelations a wake-up call for parents and their children. "Parents should make sure that the organization has qualified advisors," said Anke Moehlmann, head of the agency's Lower Saxony office. "Boys and girls should know what their rights are, what is okay and what is not okay for somebody else to do to them."

The Osnabrueck prosecutor’s office said it expects the investigation to continue for a further two weeks.

Author: Thomas Sheldrick/AP/dpa
Editor: Susan Houlton

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