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Abuse scandal hits elite progressive school

The Local · 6 Mar 2010, 14:18

Published: 06 Mar 2010 14:18 GMT+01:00

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The Odenwaldschule school board admitted to the paper that teachers had abused wards at the school for years. School director Margarita Kaufmann told the newspaper, "As far as I am concerned, it is a fact that sexual abuse occurred here at least since 1971."

According to accounts by former pupils, teachers at the school in Heppenheim woke them by stroking their genitals, forced them to perform oral sex, and were made into "sex slaves" for whole weekends.

Teachers also beat their wards, provided them with drugs and alcohol, and did not intervene when several pupils sexually abused a girl.

Allegations against Rector Gerold Becker, who ran the school from 1971 to 1985, were first made public around ten years ago. But investigations were suspended because of the amount of time that had passed. "It was a failure and a serious mistake, that the school did not investigate further then," Kaufmann said.

Kaufmann, who has directed the school since 2007, said that she had recently been approached by pupils with concerns, and that she had then spoken to several former pupils. She believes that at least three former teachers were involved. The Frankfurter Rundschau believes that between 50 and 100 former students were victims of abuse.

Story continues below…

The Odenwaldschule was established in 1910 with a holistic ethos of raising a child according to its own individual desires, rather than through discipline and drill. The 225 pupils currently attending (200 as boarders) live in so-called 'families,' with their class teacher as a kind of 'family head' who lives in an adjacent room. A boarder's place at the school currently costs €2,220 a month.

Prominent alumni include Green party politician Daniel Cohn-Bendit, journalist and TV presenter Amelie Fried, entrepreneur Beate Uhse and the author Klaus Mann.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:22 March 6, 2010 by wenddiver
School is prison for children. You stay there until you learn how to sit at a desk, like a dead person.
17:55 March 6, 2010 by Jaackde
poor parents they had to pay a hell lot of money only to have their children abused...
19:08 March 6, 2010 by dcgi
@Jaackde, they were abused, and what's more, they were rich children! You're in danger of implying that the money was there to guarantee the safety of them, not the best education money can buy.
22:24 March 6, 2010 by worldcomingtoanend
yes should be true...i was once at a catholic mission school for 4 years and i saw it happening....
00:14 March 7, 2010 by Dlocal
.....and if you do not send the kids to school then take asylum in US....
11:31 March 7, 2010 by allhappy
Well thats the world we have got.World of Education(learning).

Some went to school and ended up to learn first hand on how to deceive,manipulate,lie and to dominate other weaker ones.

Some learn after law school to be first hand in using the law meant to protect the citizens against the common masses.

Doctors claim to save lives while they care for nothing more than their status and salaries.

After abusing such an innocent child at such a tender age,what would you expect such an innocent soul to think of his/her mentor.

Lets not forget the young ones are our future and they learn from us.
09:29 March 24, 2010 by Michael Francis
As an English boy I attended Die Odenwaldschule in the early 1950s. There was never any sort of sexual tension in those days and I never heard of pedophile activity.

Die Odenwaldschule was an excellent school with a very liberal lifestyle, more so than my English boarding school, which was refreshing so soon after the Nazi period.

I am sorry to hear that pedophilia came to Die Odenwaldschule - unfortunately some pedophiles become teachers because that is where they will have access to children and at a boarding school it is even easier for them.
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