Three men on trial for sexually abusing dozens of children at a campsite in the German town of Lügde have confessed in court. The case is one of the biggest abuse scandals to hit Germany in recent decades.
All three defendants standing trial for sexually abusing dozens of children at a campsite in a small town in western Germany confessed on Thursday to nearly all the charges brought against them.
More than 40 children between the ages of 3 and 14 were sexually abused on a campsite in Lügde over the years in a sprawling pedophilia case that has also triggered investigations into the failings of the local youth welfare office and police.
The charges against Andreas V., a 56-year-old man who lived there permanently, include 298 criminal offenses.
His 34-year-old neighbor Mario S. also confessed to the crimes of sexually abusing children. He also watched and directed abuse via online chat with the third defendant, 49-year-old Heiko V.
Andreas V. and Mario S. confessed to the majority of the charges against them on the first day of the trial at the Regional Court in Detmold. Heiko V. also later confessed to the charges in a session that was closed to the public, according to the victims' lawyers who were present.
At the beginning of the trial, the presiding judge, Anke Grudda, had said she was "stunned" by the scale and the "undoubtedly repugnant" nature of the crimes.
Over a decade of abuse
Andreas V. was accused of abusing dozens of girls, in the summer of 1998 and from 2008 to 2018.
Authorities are still evaluating some 14 terabytes of material gathered from his home, including hundreds of pictures and videos depicting sexual abuse of children.
The case has also sparked anger with local authorities, as the youth welfare office placed a foster child in his care despite warning signs. Police are also accused of not taking action in the case, as well as losing an entire suitcase of evidence.
rs, cw/sms (AFP, dpa)