Report of the Center for Intervention against domestic Violence, 31 May 2013

Wiener Interventionsstelle gegen Gewalt in der Familie ZVR: 392798682, DVR: 4006832
Domestic Violence Intervention Centre – Member of the WAVE Network http://www.wave-network.org
Die Wiener Interventionsstelle ist als Opferschutzeinrichtung anerkannt und arbeitet im Auftrag des
BKA-Bundesministerin für Frauen und öffentlichen Dienst und des Bundesministeriums für Inneres (BMI)
sowie des Bundesministeriums für Justiz (BMJ) im Rahmen von Prozessbegleitung
Adresse: 1070 Wien, Neubaugasse 1/3, Tel. 01 / 585 32 88, Fax : 01 / 585 32 88 – 20
e-mail: office@interventionsstelle-wien.at web: http://www.interventionsstelle-wien.at

Report of the Center for Intervention against domestic Violence, Vienna, 31 May

Report and danger notice concerning Sophie Guger

Our institution, an organization for the victims’ protection, has been informed about the murder of Mrs. Ruxanda Guger, as the mother of the murdered woman has, according to § 66 Abs. 2 StPO and § 73a ZPO (Austrian law), the right to receive assistance during the legal actions. Mrs. Roanghesi has authorized us to assist her during the legal action (file no. GZ353Hr/415/12i StA Wien).

In addition to the above, we as an organization against domestic violence are obliged to verify any information about a possible threat to minors and to provide appropriate assistance. Thus, it is also our obligation to tend to the safety of Sophie Guger during her stay with her grandmother in Vienna.

The murder of Mrs Guger by her husband on 24/11/2012 was a severe trauma for Sophie. In addition, in a document left behind by the girl’s mother there are massive indications of sexual abuse inflicted by the father upon the child (see Annex 1). Sophie was in the adjacent room at the time of the crime, and to this day it remains unclear to what extent she was a witness to the murder. In the very night after he murdered his wife, the father took Sophie to his parents in Steyr, although Sophie lived and went to school here in Vienna.

The murder happened on a Saturday and on the following Monday the paternal grandfather already came to Vienna to take Sophie’s belongings (he had also been in Vienna prior to the murder, on the night of Friday to Saturday). While the maternal grandmother was still under shock, concerned with organizing her daughter’s funeral, the paternal grandparents were already submitting a formal request for the custody of the granddaughter in Steyr and they immediately enrolled her at the local school.

Due to the murder, the relationship between Mrs. Roanghesi (the victim’s mother) and the paternal grandparents was enormously tense. Mrs. Roanghesi was accused by Mr Guger, immediately after the murder, on 26/11/2012, that she had „ruined Christoph” (his son). Instead of receiving sympathy and compassion, Mrs. Roanghesi was blamed and verbally aggressed. More so, the paternal grandparents refused to contribute to the costs of the funeral, claiming that it should be covered from the victim’s own personal account.

This extremely tense situation has obviously affected Sophie as well. We offered to support Mrs. Roanghesi and be with them in this difficult and tense situation. She also called for help and advice on how to best deal with Sophie and how to help her better under these circumstances.

We therefore accompanied Mrs. Roanghesi several times and we were able to meet with Sophie several times. Also, we were the only organization present at the funeral of Mrs. Guger. Thus, we were able to gain profound insights as to the  interactions between the parties present there.

For a long time we were the only psycho-social institution who had a personal contact with Sophie; our goal was to assist during the enormously stressful crisis situation.

We are all the more stunned that so far we have not been approached as a source of information or as a witness for none of the ongoing legal actions! 

As already stated, we have repeatedly accompanied Mrs. Roanghesi and Sophie. We have offered the grandmother psycho-social support and invited her to our headquarters on several occasions, for discussions. We also asked Mrs. Roanghesi to tell us about the weekends when Sophie visited her, so that we could properly help and understand how Sophie was feeling and how the child’s relationship with her maternal grandmother and paternal grandparents respectively was evolving. This approach was necessary for us to form an opinion on how to meet the child’s best interests in this extremely tense situation.

The conversations were always held in the presence of a professional interpreter, hired by our institution. Mrs. Roanghesi did not know the questions we would be asking and she had no way of “preparing” herself for the conversations.

She always answered spontaneously, without much thought, and not for one moment did we have the feeling that she would make something up. She took her duty to take care of the girl very seriously and at no time we had the feeling that she would in any way jeopardize the well-being of the little girl.

Thus, we found it the more shocking that Mrs. Roanghesi was denied any contact with Sophie by a court order; even more disturbing is the fact that Sophie was returned to her paternal grandparents although the criminal complaint against her paternal grandfather for suspicion of sexual abuse is still ongoing.

We have documented as accurately as possible everything the maternal grandmother told us.

Sophie had begun to show an increased amount of alarming symptoms, e.g. sexualized behavior and game scenes indicating sexual abuse. At first we thought that they could be explained by her having been abused by her father in the past, however, the symptoms did not diminish, as we hoped, but rather increased.

As we were very worried, we informed all the (social and medical) experts involved in this case:

–         Mrs. R., director of Child Protection Services in Steyr, who didn’t even know Sophie; she told us, to our surprise, that the Child Protection Services Steyr did not handle Sophie’s case nor collaborate with her paternal grandparents.
–         Child Protection Services Vienna 1/4/5, chief social assistant Mrs G.
–         Mrs. Z., Inspector at the Child Protection  MA11 Vienna
–         Psychiatric Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Mrs. Dr. B. and Mrs. Dr. V.
–         Social assistant of the Psychiatric Hospital, Mrs. Roswitha S.

Unfortunately, as far as we know, none of the above institutions responded to our alarm report nor have they made ​​any visits to the residence of the paternal grandparents. No measures whatsoever have been taken.

The Psychiatric Hospital stated that they were only working with Sophie to assist with the trauma related to her mother’s murder; their task would not be to clarify the situation of abuse. No institution specializing in sexual abuse was notified. Such an institution could have slowly gained the girl’s trust and thus could have helped her.

Instead, Sophie spent most of the time with her paternal grandparents and under their exclusive influence, without any supervision whatsoever.

From Mrs Roanghesi’s statements it became increasingly clear that Sophie was very afraid, not knowing what she was allowed to say and what not; she had practically seen how her mother had been murdered and obviously (consciously or unconsciously) lived in fear that the same thing might happen to her.

In time, Sophie dared to confide in her grandmother, whom she trusted because the grandmother had constantly looked after her since she had been a baby. Sophie indicated that she was experiencing sexual abuse, at first without specifying who the perpetrator was.

On 28.04.2013 Sophie finally reported about the sexual attacks of her grandfather, Mr. Guger, and for the first time she confided in others as well (see criminal complaint). In this acute crisis situation I was brought in for support by the interpreter and by friends of Sophie’s mother, so I had a conversation with Sophie.

As far as we know, Sophie also confided subsequently in the childcare assistant at the Crisis Center, where she was lodged due to the suspicion of imminent danger.

(see also the report of imminent danger in this report)

We informed the Child Protection Services (see Annex 2)  through an alarm report and they placed a criminal complaint with the Vienna Public Attorney’s Office (207 St/77/13f), which was then passed on to Steyr Public Attorney’s Office (3St/89/13a).

Due to our involvement in this incredibly tragic and disturbing case, over the last six months we were able to get acquainted with this situation very closely. Other institutions either had no contact or only sporadic contact with Sophie and her maternal grandmother. Mrs. R. – Director of the Child Protection Services in Steyr, has still not met  Mrs. Roanghesi to this day, but seems to have an extreme amount of prejudice against her. It seems she only met Sophie when she personally drove to the Crisis Center Vienna to bring Sophie back to Steyr (she drove there all by herself, which to us looks like an incomprehensible procedure).

As previously stated, at NO TIME WHATSOEVER did we have the impression that Mrs. Roanghesi had invented or “made” something up. Her reports were authentic and she often was extremely desperate and emotional, crying a lot, and very worried about Sophie’s wellbeing.

Rosa Logar, director, and Monika O., lawyer and social worker at the Center for Intervention against domestic Violence in Vienna as well as the interpreter Diana S. are all witnesses thereof.

The fact that Mrs. Roanghesi talks about Sophie’s symptoms and is accused of lying appears to be a reversal of the perpetrator-victim situation; the person who reports serious suspicions of sexual abuse comes to be portrayed as perpetrator, but without providing any evidence that her reports would be made up. This is particularly problematic in light of the child’s safety, as the potential danger is not being adequately investigated.

The clarification of suspicions of sexual abuse takes time and a gentle and careful relationship with the victim needs to be established, along with the contribution and collaboration of several institutions specialized on sexual abuse. It is crucial that the child is kept in a safe environment, otherwise she cannot trust anyone. This is however not the case with Sophie, due to the fact that during her stay in the Steyr hospital she was obviously visited by (paternal) cousins; this made clear the influence of the paternal grandparents; it is obvious that Sophie had no choice but to think that she would return to her paternal grandparents. It is obvious that a clarification from institutions specialized in sexual abuse did not take place.

We fear that Sophie is being manipulated by the accused. We also fear that Sophie is being manipulated with respect to her mother’s murder as well. One indicator of this manipulation is that Sophie says she knows from her grandfather what happened and that it was “an accident”. Sophie has not yet been interviewed about the evening of  the murder, which was 6 months ago! We are extremely concerned by the fact that in both trials no other witnesses have yet been interviewed.

On the following pages we summarized the reports on the contacts and visits (because they are internal notes, they may contain spelling mistakes, the goal was to reflect the discussion as accurately as possible). In a separate document (Annexes 2 and 3) there are the two imminent danger reports (Gefahrenmeldung) that we drafted.

Rosa Logar (director of the Vienna Center for Intervention against Domestic Violence)

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