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Man accused of making daughters his sex slaves for 41 years

New Austrian case carries echoes of Josef Fritzl, as man found to have kept two mentally-disabled daughters locked in a room for decades.

This map shows St Peter am Hart, Austria (marked with red 'A'), close to the German border to the north.
This map shows St Peter am Hart, Austria (marked with red 'A'), close to the German border to the north.

AUSTRIAN OFFICIALS HAVE said today that they are investigating allegations that a man locked up his two mentally disabled daughters in a small room in their home, sexually abused them for 41 years and kept them subservient with repeated beatings and threats to their lives.

Police said that the women have accused the 80-year-old of repeatedly raping them between 1970 and May 2011. The alleged victims are now 53 and 45 years old.

A police official did not name either the suspect or the alleged victims. He did not identify himself on the telephone.

Police confirmed they are investigating the case after a report in the Oberoesterreichische Nachrichten newspaper. The daily said the women escaped when the father was unable to get up after the older daughter pushed him over when he last tried to rape her.

The allegations evoke the case of Austrian Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned his daughter in a windowless cellar for 24 years and repeatedly raped her, fathering her seven children. Fritzl was sentenced to life imprisonment two years ago for that crime and for responsibility in the death of one of the children.

The police official said Thursday that the 80-year-old suspect, from the Upper Austrian village of St Peter am Hart, is free, pending an investigation and possible charges because there is no danger of him fleeing.

Local police commander Martin Pumberger said the suspect denies the accusations, adding it was up to the regional state prosecutor’s office to now decide whether to formally charge him on the basis of the police investigation.

During questioning the women said their father repeatedly warned he would kill them if they resisted him, occasionally threatening them with firearms, said Alois Lissl, a senior state police official. They also said that their mother, who died two years ago, was also repeatedly abused by the suspect.

The newspaper said the victims were also beaten with a stick and a pitchfork.

State broadcaster ORF said the allegations were revealed only recently because the two alleged victims did not tell anyone about them for weeks after their escape.

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