• Germany's news in English

Court acquits teacher who seduced teen

The Local · 12 Jan 2012, 12:34

Published: 12 Jan 2012 12:34 GMT+01:00

The decision was described on Wednesday as a “catastrophe” by the head teacher of the school in Neuwied in Rhineland Palatinate, while the girl’s parents said they were “totally devastated” – and furious there was no chance to take the case further.

Generally people over 21 can have sex with 14-year-olds unless they abuse the younger partner's "lack of capacity for sexual self-determination" or are in position of power over them.

The district court in Koblenz overruled a 2010 conviction of sexual abuse of a ward – and lifted the accompanying two-year suspended sentenced handed down by other, lower courts, because the judges decided the man was not her teacher.

The 32-year-old man had only taught the girl’s class a few times as a substitute teacher, which the court decided was not enough to classify her as his ward.

Speaking to the Rhein Zeitung newspaper, the girl’s father said it was an admission of complete failure to say that a substitute teacher had no duty of care.

The married teacher, whose subjects included religion, maths and English, faced the loss of his teaching license as well as his civil servant status and the benefits coming with that status.

He appealed, and was told by the next judge to deal with the case that he should be happy with the initial sentence – that he could have come out much worse.

But he continued to fight the sentence and it has now emerged that the Koblenz judge agreed with him, absolving him in December.

Der Spiegel reported that the girl and the teacher had first become chatty during a bus trip to Hamburg back in 2006, sitting together and talking for several hours.

Story continues below…

They then communicated via an internet chat service, and he had at one point asked her to send him intimate photos.

By January 2007 the first sexual contact occurred and they met regularly for sex over a period of nearly five months. She is said to still be in therapy, five years on.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

13:22 January 12, 2012 by authun
Oh, no....
13:31 January 12, 2012 by William Thirteen
cue outraged Local readers in 3....2....1...
13:32 January 12, 2012 by jmclewis
Free Sex Education!
13:57 January 12, 2012 by freechoice
for god sake she is only 14. why are there no pedophile laws in Germany?
14:28 January 12, 2012 by jg.
It was surprise to me that, having just looked it up, the age of consent in Germany and some other European countries is only 14, subject to the caveats mentioned in the article above. In Spain it is 13.
15:18 January 12, 2012 by Tanskalainen
In the US he would be sentenced to 11 to 13 years in prison as a sex offender which means he would be a target for death from the other prisoners. What a stark difference between the two societies!
16:07 January 12, 2012 by raandy
She is a student and he is a teacher in the same school. That may not have been against the law(it should be) in Germany but should be.It is against the professionalism of a teacher and he should be fired.

He asked her to send intimate photos, unbelievable and disturbing that he is an educator in the public system.

If I were her parent I would continue this in civil court, or I may have considered my own form of justice.
16:44 January 12, 2012 by Englishted
@William Thirteen

I can only assume you don't have a teenage daughter or you may also find this story outrageous.
17:37 January 12, 2012 by heyheyhey

The entire world can see that as another person from the US your first response to this story is to think about the perpetrator being killed, by other prisoners, had he been in the US system. We all know that what this teacher did was very predatory and very wrong. We do not know if he has done this in the past. We do not know if he will have severe personal consequences' such as the loss of a wife and children, and job. Let us hope that his losses and hardships following this are far worse than the girls. Perhaps he now will not be able to find work as a teacher? We can hope that all of Germany remembers his name and treats him as an outcast!

He should have consequences, and if this girl was my daughter and she was now having psychological troubles, I would attempt to hold the teacher responsible for her therapy costs.

A good ass whipping, out behind the school, done by 25 or so of this girls friends may teach him a lesson.

Children such as her do have sex with others their own age and we all realize this.

But this man is a predatory pig, plain and simple.
19:10 January 12, 2012 by Gretl
"Children such as her do have sex with others their own age and we all realize this"

A few do, but the average age is 16, not 14. My step-daughter was 18. I have a 14 year old right now who is not ready or interested. I think Germany's age of consent is low, but who knows, if it wasn't for teenage pregnancy, the birthrate would be abyssmal. (Yes, I have a German co-worker whose daughter had a child at 17, so I don't want to hear about how that never happens here.)
19:56 January 12, 2012 by zeddriver
Would this by chance. Be the same school that has the pipe bomb construction class?
20:22 January 12, 2012 by Tanskalainen
@heyheyhey I did not say that it would be a good thing for him to be killed by his fellow prisoners, I am just pointing out that that is the reality of the situation in the US and Canada. All men are pigs. Whether they want to admit it or not. As Roman Polanski point out the judge wants to have sex with teenage girls and so does the jury. That is why harsh punishments are needed to prevent us all from screwing our nieces to pieces!
21:52 January 12, 2012 by Horatio Viscount Nelson
In Britain he would have got a least 2 years in prison, probably nearer 4-5 years. He would be on the sex offenders register for 10 years or for life, as it depends on the sentence. The police will call at his door for no reason and he must tell them of his address during this time, or face prison.

Britain's tabloid press rule, and the weak politicians drive these sentences up, in order to keep the tabloids happy. Many of the British are malcontent because they live on Europe's bad weather island, and want everyone else to be as miserable as they are..

The girl consented, and perhaps is having therapy ONLY because of the court case. Germany is a better country than the US or Britain, and I hope it stays that way.
22:19 January 12, 2012 by Eastard
Your don't make the laws to fit opinions... German law was followed. The youth was fully aware of what she was doing and why she was doing it.... I wonder if her therapy was to get over the guilt trip society has placed on her. I wonder if she would be this way if all that happened was the man was told to stop... like what would have happened if it had been a 14 year old boy... I would think that the parents of this child hold some responsibility for this behaviour in that it clearly seems "advanced" and possibly "unsupervised"... In any country the age difference is poor on the man's part.. He had the advantage and took it... My guess is that he will suffer for many years and will carry a cloud of distrust over his reputation for a long time.
23:15 January 12, 2012 by Big Dave Hampshire
God help us all, if mainland Europe looks to the US or the UK for moral guidance!
23:42 January 12, 2012 by Logic Guy
Well, this case is just one reason why Christianity is so, very important.

Many people are confused, and simply don't know what morality is.

Christianity is very useful, it that it provides humanity with a Moral Compass.

When followed correctly, it yields only positive benefits.

Liberalism only leads to stupidness and tragedy. It's crazy stuff!
02:24 January 13, 2012 by finanzdoktor
Geez, I thought being "a" teacher was being in a position of authority (power) and responsibility, not just being "the" teacher.

So, if you are a teacher in Germany, full-time or not, if you want to have a sexual relationship with a student, its okay as long as you have the relationship with a student not in your class. Instead, go to one of your colleagues' classes, and pick one out from there.

And, they will reciprocate, by coming to yours and making a choice. Give me a break.
06:31 January 13, 2012 by wwill
I'm a new reader of the Local:de from the USA. May I add my experience of working with sexually abused kids and the courts for 34 years. The age of consent in the USA is age 18. Generally prosecutors in the US tell the accused that if the charges are accurate, they can plead guilty and probably receive a reduced sentence, that is--less time in prison, or serving their time in a local jail (doesn't happen often), probation, probation with therapy, or--------being sent to an evaluation prison for 180 to 210 days where the professional staff will evaluate and recommend what should happen to that person---which usually means probation and treatment in the communkity for a set time. This whole process is called a "plea negotiation."

If a prosecutor has good evidence that the person is guilty and the accused refuses to admit guilt, if the prosecutor subsequently gets a conviction, the guilty person will usually get the full prison sentence at outlined in the law. The person is usually eligible for parole after one-third of the sentence is completed.

Sex offenders are considered a special class of inmate and are not put with the general prison population--because that does put them in danger. The only way that they are put in with other felon's is if they chronically misbehave. Rarely do sex offenders misbehave in prison in the US. They are usually considered model prisoners and are granted parole when one third of their sentence is completed. Offenders that sexually abuse murder their victims are not usually granted parole. All people who plead guilty or found guilty have to register as a sex offender in the USA and that information is generally available online for anyone to access.

The long and short of the US treatment of sex offenders is that it varies widely in the USA and sometimes judges let them off completely--as in this case.

That said, most American's don't like child molestors's getting off without jail-time.

Sorry for the long post--but perhaps that will clarify what we generally do in the US.

07:36 January 13, 2012 by insight101
@horatio and eastard

I'm sure an adult could get an 8 year old to consent too. Would that be ok for you? How about all those pedophile priests? That's ok, because the boy's consented? In the U.S. it's called statutory rape, because although she consented she has the brain, experience, and emotional makeup of a 14 year old. She automatically has a lack of capacity for self-determination is this area that an adult could exploit, and I'm sure could find nice ways to exploit without using a position of authority. At all you that like to turn another occurrence of something horrible in your country into a chance to blast America and Americans, please read wwill's post so that you get the facts about how it is or go to an official website for the information instead of going off rumors and the inaccurate info from your politicians and media...
09:20 January 13, 2012 by ChrisRea
As Eastard pointed out, the district court in Koblenz correctly observed the law. The guy could have been a janitor or security personnel at the school or somewhere else. He was not in a position of power over the girl. He just has the advantage of age over her. So if we are to be outraged, we should go for the law, not for this judge.

I am generally of the opinion that today's young people are less experienced as couple of centuries ago. They spend more time in school (which I think is good, don't misunderstand me), a protected environment which does not really make them experience responsibilities like earning one's bread or managing one's household. But we expect them to be able to understand sexuality, politics (comes with the right to vote), the effects of alcohol, the risks associated with driving a car and so on - we even put them a gun in their hand (as professional soldiers, like the cases of 17 years old deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan). In the same time, we still acknowledge that they are children (in Germany, young people under 25 that are in professional training receive child allowance - Kindergeld). So maybe we should think this over and adjust some age limits (or put some systems in place which gives responsibilities to those who are ready for them).

As a last remark, considering the sexist tradition of Christianity and its proceedings with castrati, I think we can safely let it out of this debate.
12:04 January 13, 2012 by raandy
To me the issue is not that the court followed the law concerning age of consent. I have a big problem with this being with an educator in her school. The sneaking and lying, the request for the photos. If he felt this was her and his wish than why didn't he contact the family and explain his intentions or did he feel this was morally and professionally wrong.

It would not matter if it was a boy or girl.

If he was hitting on my 14 year old child, eighth or ninth grader, I would have a serious issue with this individual.

He should be barred from teaching.
12:42 January 13, 2012 by danceswithgoats
You would like to think that morality and legality were the same thing. Obviously, they are not.
12:55 January 13, 2012 by Horatio Viscount Nelson
@wwill post 18.

You say,

"I'm a new reader of the Local:de from the USA. May I add my experience of working with sexually abused kids and the courts for 34 years. The age of consent in the USA is age 18."

18 is absurdly high and I hope that Europe never follows the example of the US.

You say,

"Sex offenders are considered a special class of inmate and are not put with the general prison population--because that does put them in danger."

The hard of thinking inmates will not stop and think that the age of consent is far too high at 18 and will attack someone jailed for having sex with a 17yo. They will use any excuse to attack anyone. This time, US law has provided the excuse.

"That said, most American's don't like child molestors's getting off without jail-time.

Sorry for the long post--but perhaps that will clarify what we generally do in the US.

A shining example for the rest of the world of how not to do things.
13:26 January 13, 2012 by dxlman

I think you have some serious issues

"All men are pigs. Whether they want to admit it or not."

Not all men are pigs! In fact, the majority of us are not. Just because one man sleeps, legally, with a girl of 14, doesn't mean all men do or want to.

So please stop tarring everyone with the same brush, I don't think all Americans are idiots like you!
15:17 January 13, 2012 by Englishted
@Horatio Viscount Nelson#13

A strange post you made ,why the tirade at the British press,the British weather and the British people ?.

I would normally say it could be called racist but I think you must have had a bad time with a Brit but it has nothing to do with this case.
16:13 January 13, 2012 by iseedaftpeople
The outcome of this court case may be hard to swallow for many.

On the other hand, the judge merely adhered to the law. And the court rightly pointed out that it is not its function to judge the morality of this case, but to decide whether the girl's rights were violated.

The fact that a 32-year-old gets away with having sex with a 14-year-old may not be ideal, and I too have doubts if this was really in the best interest of the girl. On the other hand, what we are dealing with here is something which, unlike moralist and feminist pressure groups would have you believe, only happens a handful of times each year in this country. If in response to this, laws were to change to outlaw any sexual contact between minors and adults, the cost would be much higher for society as a whole. Because you would quite likely more than anything effectively declare any 20-year-old who has a 16-year-old girlfriend a sex offender simply because the two had consensual sex. An outcome which would in fact stir more outrage in Germany because unlike in the U.S., such relationships are socially acceptable. In the U.S. you have tens of thousands of juvenile sex offenders on (sometimes public) registries whose only crime it was to have had consensual sex with their often just slightly underage girlfriends - somebody who was almost but not yet 16, or in some states, almost 18. That would be difficult to do in Germany, where people, even parents of teenagers, believe that sexuality is a right which their kids have from a certain age, and not a danger that they must be protected from. Just think of the German custom of conjugal teenage sleepovers. Hugely unacceptable in the U.S., but I would say about eight out of ten German parents have no problem with it.

Again, I too have doubts if this was the right decision by the court. But in the end, that is the price that is paid. A handful of people get away with this because German law rightly grants youths sexual agency and declares it no crime per se when a person over the age of 18 has consensual sex with a youth and no position of authority was exploited.
16:29 January 13, 2012 by wwill
To Horatio Nelson: Typical ignorant American bashing. The joke in America that a lot of European's think having sex with a 14 year old is fine "everybody does it, so why not me"--brush up on child development---probably Piaget will be acceptable to you since he's not an american and find out what the social, emotional and sexual development is in a 14 year old!
16:32 January 13, 2012 by Tanskalainen
@dximan Tell your mom I'll call her later.

@Horatio Viscount Nelson What you say is essentially true however the prison guards can not baby sit sex offenders 24/7 nor are they particularly motivated to do so. Sex offenders are on the bottom rung of inmate pecking order. Any chance a gang banger gets to kill a "chester" he will, with his bare hands if necessary. Jeffry Dahmer case in point, he was beaten to death with a steel bar while he was cleaning a bathroom.
17:51 January 13, 2012 by wwill
To clarify---Jeffery Dahmer was convicted of murder, although he was also a sex offender. Sex offenders that are convicted of murder are still usually not exposed to the "general population" of convicts. I still "scratch my head" as to why they put Dahmer in with other convicts--that was really poor judgment on the part of the prison system. While many think that Dahmer got what he deserved, his death was the result of poor management of that particular prison---the american prison system does not usually expose people like Dahmer to the general population because of what Tanskalainen (the last post) stated. Many general population prisoners have a history of being sexually abused or exploited as a child---and as a result---hate sex offenders and will try to hurt them.
18:17 January 13, 2012 by aries58
Germany does have jails and prisons. However, it does not create more of them to operate as one of the leading industries of the country, as does "the land of the free." America tries to house as many of its citizens in prisons and jails as possible, which is why it has the highest per capita rate of incarceration than any other country in the world, including communist ones. What a feather in its cap, eh?

And although the American film industry leads people to believe that it is a country of liberal thinkers, it is not. There are more prudes per capita in America than in any other country in Europe, for starters. It has a higher teenage pregnancy rate compared to Germany, because sex is not as secretive and sinful in Europe as it is made to be in America. Living in the Victorian age is archaic, but it is the mindset of the "god-fearing good Christians" who will gladly beat and kill their enemies and loved ones into submission. Those who claim to be in possession of a moral compass are the real culprits the public needs to be made aware of. They do not love their neighbor as themselves. They judge their neighbor, as is evidenced in their posts on this site. As America continues its slide down the slippery slope into poverty due to its greed, powermongering, and holier-than-thou thinking, let the other countries of the world speak their own minds, possess their own opinions, and punish their own citizens according to their own laws. America is no longer the shining example of posterity, truth, or justice. The days of the arrogant American are numbered.
18:46 January 13, 2012 by raandy
aries58, Why don't you get a soap box to rant from? absurd.
19:57 January 13, 2012 by Horatio Viscount Nelson
@aries58 I agree about "the land of the free" that has several states where the age of consent is 18. Theres few places in the world so high as that. A look at ages of consent across the world is very revealing about how difficult people in a closed room find it when they have to come up with a number.

It was 12 for almost six centuries in the UK, when it was upped to 13 in 1830ish, then to 16 in 1885, in response to dramatised newspaper articles about child prostitution. They could have outlawed prostitution instead, or the raised for prostitution.

For centuries girls married at puberty, because you didnt have time to hang about with life expectancy at 40, or less.

There will be many people in jails across the world because they dont have the same freedoms that their great great grandfathers enjoyed. When you try to sanitise, you criminalise too.
21:33 January 13, 2012 by yuri_nahl
It is 12 years old in Vatican City, for God's sake. No wait, for the clergy's sake. But you know Americans like to throw people in stir, especially for sex. But if you read the news, you can have sex with underage children if you are a member of the clergy, for God's sake. But don't believe me! Read in National Secular Society. They have the facts!
23:10 January 13, 2012 by iseedaftpeople

>then to 16 in 1885, in response to dramatised newspaper articles about child prostitution. They could have outlawed prostitution instead, or the raised for prostitution.

That is a very important point you are raising here, and that did not just happen in the 1800s, but we are seeing much of the same today. Underage prostitution is virtually non-existent in Europe, and yet, the EU has just finalized a directive addressing the issue of what it claims to be a pressing need - to protect youngsters from the threat of "child" prostitution.

While openly admitting that there is no reliable data on the problem and its severity in Europe, and expressly clarifying in its introduction that it does not seek to change ages of consent for consensual sexual activity throughout Europe, the directive's fine print contains a grave risk of forms of previously normative adolescent behavior becoming redeclared as child prostitution and abuse. It could for example be in the future, if you find a judge with a mind to it, that a 20-year-old gets tried on suspicion of "child abuse" or "child prostitution" because he went on a date with a 16-year-old, paid for movie tickets, and they later ended up in the sack together. His offense? "Enticing" a "child" under 18 to commit sexual acts for money or "any other form of remuneration".

It's the same thing all over again. In order to pursue an underhanded hidden agenda, you pull a threat out of thin air, stir up a moral panic, and succeed in outlawing something that goes way beyond the actual problem as outlined by you. Raising the UK age of consent to 16 in the 1880s was as little about actually curbing underage prostitution as the EU's new directive is today.
14:02 January 14, 2012 by Horatio Viscount Nelson
@iseedaftpeople, I agree with what you say. Raising the age of consent is very easy, but lowering it appears very difficult. Pulling a threat out of thin air, and stirring up a panic, validating the existence of dramatised press articles, and others involved in 'protecting children' is an ongoing scenario. The British tabloids are probably the worst for this.

I wonder what anyone brought forward in a time machine from two hundred years ago would think of worldwide ages of consent today. They lived in a world where it had been twelve for centuries. They would think that the worlds gone mad, and could well be right.
15:57 January 14, 2012 by willowsdad
aries58: As a born-and-bred US citizen, I can attest that you are absolutely correct. Not that everybody fits this image, of course; but enough do.
01:16 January 15, 2012 by MichaSeifert-Weiss
This seems to come down to deciding a point in a person's life when that person is likely to have reached both an age of sexuality, and age when the individual is capable of deciding for her/himself with whom s/he would wish to share sexual experience, and politico-religious opinions, passed off as moral compasses.

If you aren't happy with the law of the land and you are a resident /uncommitted visitor - ie. Not a citizen - then don't stay. If you are a citizen and unhappy, vote. Law speaks to the codes of a nation, not the beliefs and feelings of individuals. In a land such as this, there is a great deal of educated and experienced consideration, discussion and expertise that finds the position that is best for this country and these people.
10:37 January 15, 2012 by wwill
@aries58. Just wondering why someone like you who things the USA is so wrong is reading and posting comments on an English language website for German News? You sound like a person that is hanging around to criticize people you already dislike. Have you ever lived in the USA? Why don't you read Der Spiegel--it has more news relevant to you than THE Local.
16:53 January 18, 2012 by jkern3
"Well, this case is just one reason why Christianity is so, very important. Christianity is very useful, it that it provides humanity with a Moral Compass."

Evidently not, since this guy actually was teaching Christianity (meaning, he was even approved by the churches) and still had sex with his student.

See, what matters is not whether Christianity theoretically says the right things, what matters is whether it is effective in getting its followers to do the right thing, and it clearly is not. As a group, in many countries, Christians have higher rates of immoral behavior like child abuse, illegitimacy, and divorce.
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