The court ruled Monday that the 69-year-old had a consensual sexual relationship with his daughter over a period of decades in their home in the Bavarian village of Willmersbach north of Nuremberg.
Renate B., 46, pressed charges against her father in March, accusing him of raping her at the age of 12 or 13 and then continuing a sexual relationship with her for 34 years. State prosecutors charged him with around 500 cases of rape and called for a 14-year prison sentence.
But the court took the side of the defence - which presented the daughter's testimony as questionable - and handed down an extremely lenient penalty, since the defence had called for a jail sentence of five years.
Renate B. said her father had beaten her and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. “I will kill you,” she quoted him as saying. “It doesn't matter where you go, I will find you.”
The woman added that her mother was lying in the bed next to them when the first sexual encounter took place.
Renate B. also said that neither her mother nor her four brothers did anything to help her, either during her childhood or later in life.
The court ruled that it was impossible to prove that the sexual relationship was not consensual, and pointed to inconsistencies in Renate B.'s testimony.
At the start of the trial Adolf B. admitted having consensual sex with his daughter. He said that his daughter had almost always taken the initiative in their sexual encounters, an account she vehemently denied. She said she once mixed sleeping pills into his food to escape his attentions.
Prosecutors said Renate B. gave birth to three disabled sons by her father, one of whom died as a baby, another of whom died recently, while the third survived.
A psychiatrist who examined Adolf B. pronounced him fully responsible for his actions. He said there was “a very high probability” that he would repeat them in a similar situation.
Last week, one witness testified that the incest had been an open secret in the village for several years.
But the case only came to light when Renate B. tried to blackmail a doctor, who she accused of being responsible for the disability of her son. She then confided in her parole officer.