Beaten under state supervision


September 10, 2013
Translated from the German

“I have received 84 lashes in just two days.” A TV reporter has secretly filmed the Twelve Tribes Bible-based cult. The authorities are shocked because they announced inspections but they did nothing for months.

Von Stefan Mayr

The woman sits on a chair and says to the girl standing in front of her in a calm voice: Say, “I’m tired!” The child, about five or six years old, whimpers. “No.” Then the woman said: “Bend down!” The child bends forward and the woman pulls his pants down and hits him with a slender rod on the naked bottom. It snaps loudly and the child cries and cries.

The woman remains disturbingly quiet and calls say “I’m tired!” This procedure continues until the girl finally says: “I’m tired!” But that is not enough for the woman. The child must repeat the sentence three times.

The magazine Extra showed brutal images about the events in the Twelve Tribes faith community (District of Donau-Ries). It aired on Monday evening. “I have received 84 lashes in just two days.” Wolfram Kuhnigk, a journalist with RTL infiltrated the sect and installed hidden cameras. Six adults who are not their parents beat six different children. The flogging scenes cause the viewers to be frightened. Then they have questions. What is in the minds of those who permit or do such things? Why have the authorities failed to do anything for years about the abuse that they knew about? How can medical officers and school psychologists find no abuse for months, even though the sect has made regular visits?

How can that be?

The Donauwörther District Stefan Rössle referred to the situation as “totally unsatisfactory.” He said he can not see any fault from the authorities. “I’m quite glad that we could take charge of the children now.” On Thursday 40 sect children were picked up and sent to foster care and children’s homes on the orders of the Family Court.

Rössle admits that this action would not have happened if Wolfram Kuhnigk (the RTL journalist) had not made his pictures available. And, although Rössle already knew from February 2013 and the testimony of a cult member, that the children were experiencing systematic punishment and child abuse at school. We then turned to prosecution, reports Rössle. But the investigation was discontinued because no concrete evidence was found.

A medical officer and a school psychologist visited the sect regularly but found no evidence of abuse. How can this be? A former member told me that he was struck with rods that left no welts, says Rössle. And if a child was injured yet again, then it was on the day of the examination probably. Rössle confirmed that the checks were always logged. Unannounced visits were only possible with a court order. Such a decision may, however, be adopted only if sufficient evidence exists.

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