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Justice Minister slams Guttenberg's paedophile-hunt TV show

The Local · 19 Oct 2010, 15:04

Published: 19 Oct 2010 15:04 GMT+02:00

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Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger’s warning that the programme could undermine the rule of law follows the revelation that an alleged child abuser exposed on the show has disappeared.

The programme by broadcaster RTL, Tatort Internet, began on October 7 and is co-presented by Stephanie zu Guttenberg, who is a prominent child protection advocate as well as wife of Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

“Particular caution and restraint are required here,'' Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said of the show. ''There is the danger that innocents will be pilloried and damage caused, and the rule of law thrown out of balance.

“That is a high risk. The rule of law does not need public naming and shaming. We have to take care that there is no prejudgement before the justice system investigates. Our justice is extremely precious. We should preserve it.”

The Justice Minister's remarks follow the disappearance of a 61-year-old youth centre manager who was suspended after being outed as an alleged paedophile on the programme. A spokesman for the association that runs the centre said on Monday the man had said he was going home but had never arrived.

“We are worried because neither we nor his family have had contact with him since,” the spokesman said.

A police spokesman said officers had searched for the man over the past few days without success.

“We have no clue at the moment where he is located,” he said.

A week before the national broadcast of the programme, the man had made contact via a chatroom with an RTL journalist who impersonated a 13-year-old girl from Munich. He planned to spend the night with the girl and had her meet him at a restaurant. The girl was played by an actress.

When he was confronted by the supposed mother of the girl, he said: “Nothing happened and nothing would have happened.”

Though his face was blurred on the programme, the man would have been recognisable to people who knew him.

Story continues below…

A state prosecutor began investigating the man after the accusations by the programme were aired. According to the organisation that runs the youth centre, there was no evidence that man had committed any abuses at the centre itself.

Workers there had been very surprised, said a spokesman for the local government in Lower Franconia, where the centre is situated.

“He always insisted on a certain distance from youths,” the spokesman said.

DAPD/The Local/dw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:45 October 19, 2010 by Beachrider
If this show broadcasts situations where pedophilia is the feature subject AND then doesn't give local-law the chance to immediately get involved, then they are advancing a socially repugnant activity. If local-law declines to be present, then some law-man needs to be fired.

Your choice.

This is NOT the same as a 'reveal' show where adult-prostitution is featured.
17:39 October 19, 2010 by William Thirteen
is it ratings week again already?
00:00 October 20, 2010 by iseedaftpeople
Child molestation is a serious issue, and perpetrators must be (and are being) duly punished. There are no loopholes in the law as claimed - child online enticement is already punishable by up to five years in prison. There is however generally nothing wrong with raising awareness. Awareness helps prevent crime.

But the way this show and Frau Guttenberg are approaching the issue does nothing to protect children. It is simply a PR vehicle for Mrs Guttenberg who believes she and her husband have a higher calling in this country, and it's a ratings getter for RTL II, a channel which is most famous for raunchy documentaries and softcore porn movies.

The show offers zero practical advice, its main purpose is shock value, and if they really care so much about the children, why did the producers let five months pass between filming and airing without informing the employer of that 61-year-old that he might be a danger to the children he works with?

Again, child molestation is a serious issue. But any grandstanding and self-serving media hype on the backs of molested children abuses them a second time.
03:56 October 20, 2010 by crm114
I have not seen the program under discussion but i cannot believe that anyone contemplating or actively involved in child molestation is going to modify their behaviour in response to this kind of sensationalism (except perhaps being more aware of what they should and should not do to avoid entrapment) What we have seen before however is that this kind of journalism can lead to innocently accused people falling victim to the baying mob or being cleared of any wrongdoing and being unable to evade the stigma that inevitably remains.
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