Prosecutors had charged Bergbauer with nearly 500 counts of rape of his daughter who is now 46 years old. Bergbauer admitted he had a longstanding sexual relationship with his daughter but denied he raped her. He said the relationship was consensual. According to the prosecutors, Bergbauer began raping his daughter when she was 12.
The Independent Online
reports Bergbauer, an illiterate casual laborer, said the first incidence of sexual contact between himself and his daughter was when she was 17. The man said: “She was a willing participant." Bergbauer explained to the court that he had consensual sex with his daughter twice a week for a period of three decades.
But the daughter told the court that her father raped her in his bedroom, in her own room and at another time in the woods in the back of his car. The Daily Telegraph
reports the daughter said her four brothers and mother did nothing to help her. She claimed her father regularly beat her and threatened to kill her with a knife.
Bergbauer denied his daughter's accusations. He claimed that his daughter had always propositioned him, but his daughter denied it. The Guardian
reports he has been nicknamed the "German Fritzl," in reference to the Austrian Josef Fritzl, who kept his daughter in a basement for 24 years and had six children with her.
Judge Guenther Heydner delivering judgment, said there was no evidence that the man had forced his daughter into sexual relationship with him. The Guardian
reported the judge said that not only was the evidence insufficient, there were too many contradictions in the testimony of the daughter.The judge said: “With testimony which changed in key aspects from charge to charge, we could not establish proof."
The judge, according to The Guardian
, also said that even if it was true that the first sexual contact between father and daughter had happened when she was 13, more than 20 years had passed and therefore the man could not be charged with statutory rape.
The lawyer representing the daughter Andrea Kuehne, said the sexual abuse had gone on for so long that the daughter developed a survival mechanism called "Stockholm syndrome," in which the victim develops an emotional attachment to her captor and the situational develops into one of "perverse normality."
The German Süddeutsche Zeitung
reported there had been since the 1980s, in the Bavarian town of Willmersbach, rumors of incestuous relationship in the family but no one intervened. But when in 2010 the daughter was charged with extortion and assigned a probation officer, she brought allegations of rape against her father.The girl's mother, however, claimed that she was unaware of the illicit relationship between daughter and father.
Three sons were born to the couple. Two died and the surviving child is handicapped.
expressed disapproval of the court's sentence, describing it as too lenient.