|Who is on trial here?|
The verdict in the trail of Adolf B., 69, is now three weeks old but the repercussions of this irresponsible decision in our so-called modern-day society still ripple through the Franconian Village of Willmersbach. Adolf B. was accused of raping his daughter Renate, 46, some 500 times, over the last 34 years, and fathering three children. He was sentenced on December 19, 2011 to a prison sentence of two years and eight months for incest, a lesser crime than rape, because the evidence did not support the accusation of rape. That means, the defense could not prove that the father took his daughter against her will. The sentence for incest in Germany is three years in prison. The Staatsanwaltschaft (District Attorney) was pushing to get a fourteen-year sentence for rape.
Called a ‘public secret’ in Willmersbach, this drama started in the early 80’s when Adolf B. brought his then twelve-year-old daughter into the bed he shared with his wife and had sexual relations with her. In front of his wife. She was present. Maybe she had her eyes closed.
The judge, Günther Heydner, known to be a tough cookie, addressed the court for two hours to justify the decision he felt compelled to make after the six-day trial. He recounted the witnesses’ testimonies and remained steadfast that no rape had been proved. The daughter’s testimony was inconsistent. She had a car and a driver’s license and could flee. They seemed to be a normal, healthy family. The daughter had advantages to this situation. She didn’t have to work outside the home! She would inherit the house when the father died!
There was no question of his guilt: no, it came down to the severity of the act. Incest or Rape? The question that bothered most of the newsfeed-readers who bothered to comment on Focus.de’s website was: how could anyone believe that a twelve-year-old girl was seducing and voluntarily having sex with her father? Even Adolf B.’s defense wanted to lock him up for five years!
The parallels to the verdicts that came out of medieval courts are overwhelming. But today’s society is more civilized, less violent and, even though I complain about the system, surely more humane.