Friday, March 20, 2009

Fifteen Years for Twenty-Four: Fritzl Wins

by Pat Brown

Yesterday and today I did hits for
CTV Newsnet on the "Dungeon Dad," Joseph Fritzl. Both times, I was asked the traditional questions: "What was going on in the mind of this man? What is wrong with him?" I answered those but I couldn't resist making commentary on what I think is a lot more important. The bigger issue is "What is wrong with us?"

Josef Fritzl committed crime after crime because we, society, have let him. After imprisoning his daughter, Elisabeth, in a bunker for twenty-four years, raping her repeatedly, fathering her children, and killing one of them, the Austrian father-from-hell
Fritzl got a slap on the wrist. The only time before this that he saw the inside of a courtroom and got penalized for his behavior (if one can call his sentence much of a penalty) was when he viciously raped a stranger. He spent all of a year in jail (even though he had convictions of indecent exposure and attempted rape on his record).

Apparently, society feels rape isn't such a bad crime and people weren't much concerned that Fritzl, a repeat sexual offender, was a danger to women; they essentially condoned the action. Then the crime was actually expunged and his name cleared. Society seemed to feel the victim should have to suffer the rest of her life, but this man should not have to have his future ruined. And society must have determined that women in Austria, and elsewhere, deserved to live with the threat of this man raping and possibly murdering them.

Think this is a stretch? Fritzl is now being looked at in the sexual homicides of four teenage girls in his country and in other possible crimes outside Austria, including Thailand where he went for sex tourism. And a number of women have come forward to identify Fritzl as the man who raped them.

Fritzl's wife, Roseanne, clearly agreed with society. She went ahead and let her husband return home in spite of the fact that he brutally raped a woman while he was married to her. When her daughter went missing,
she didn't alert the authorities to the possibility her husband might have done something to her.

Year after year, Roseanne's husband acted in a manner that could not have failed to raise red flags. Did she not question why there were "no access" areas of the property and why her three grandchildren suddenly showed up from out of the blue with only her husband's word that Elisabeth dumped them on the doorstep? Fritzl's wife undoubtedly looked the other way and, in spite of that, society did not charge her as an accomplice.

Even the lodgers in the house and the neighbors saw suspicious behaviors on the part of Joseph Fritzl. They actually knew, at a point before she disappeared for two decades, that Elizabeth was being sexually abused; they just didn't think it was their duty to report it to the police. Society again gave Fritzl the green light for his hideous and evil actions.

Finally, part of society caught up with Joseph Fritzl and took him to court. The verdict? An unbelievable fifteen-year sentence for 3,000 rapes, kidnapping, imprisonment, and murder of an infant. Society must think all of this isn't much more of an offense than passing bad checks.

Now, in a continuation of this abomination, Fritzl doesn't have to go to prison where other criminals go, but instead he gets to pick the senior citizen home of his choice—a psychiatric facility (pictured right) that has the most desirable amenities—where he can live out his declining years in comfort and safety.

But, wait, society isn't finished with Fritzl yet! They still have the right to free the man before his "sentence" is up! If this sweet old man makes enough nice art projects and finds "recognition of his behaviors through his personal and group therapy," society might decide to let the poor fellow live out his final years in the community.

Looking at this case, I am not sure Joseph Fritzl deserves to be found guilty if society so supported each and every one of his sick behaviors. How can society blame him when society did next to nothing to prevent, stop, or condemn his actions until Fritzl reached age seventy-three and had decades of enabling by his fellow citizens?

Joseph Fritzl has "confessed" and "expressed remorse" at what he has done. When will society do the same?


FleaStiff said...

Many rapists receive probation or rather short sentences.
Please don't get carried away with the incest aspects of the case, that is largely a cultural taboo based on societal norms developed when there was insufficient technology to cheaply and reliably separate recreational sex from procreational sex. France would prosecute for sex with an underage female but incest is not unlawful in France.
Imprisonment, denail of medical care, forcible rape are the real issues. The incest is the emotionally-laden issue that inflames the reporting of the case.
Determinate sentencing grids do have advantages. In California, rape penalties are six years, nine years or twelve years depending upon prior offenses or sentence-enhancing aspects of the acts.
Given the advanced age of the defendant, what punishment is really available other than what he got? The Austrian judicial system is undoubtedly glad to have the spectacle end.

FleaStiff said...

Do not be too upset by the technical possibility of early release for rehabilitation, it ain't a gonna happen!
California kept a woman in prison who had done nothing more than stab a corpse. Compassionate release for her to die of brain cancer at home would have been granted to anyone else but was denied due to the media frenzy of the Manson Murders. It might have been different has the press treated the Manson Murders as but one group of druggies taking revenge on another group of druggies. Once society so hates a defendant, he won't be getting out on some sort of early parole or rehabilitation excuse.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

This post is full of flat out delusional blather. I've seldom seen a straw man (society supporting rapists) flogged so vigorously. Total BS.

FleaStiff said...

Relax Grits,,,, its just very au courant to believe that anything less than instantaneous castration constitutes "society supporting rapists".
Criminal enforcement is subject to fads. One current fad is DUIs which were no big deal a few decades ago.

I don't agree with the author's view that if neighbors knew decades again that incest was taking place they also should be considered responsible for the more outrageous and prolonged acts that followed. The neighbors acted as was socially acceptable at the time: let families solve their own problems without anyone getting involved unless the situation becomes extreme or extremely costly to the community.

Anonymous said...


Women annually reported about 500,000 rapes and sexual assaults (for 1992 and 1993), with friends or acquaintances committing over half of these crimes, and strangers responsible for about one in five rapes and sexual assaults. (Ronet Bachman, Ph.D. and Linda E. Saltzman, Ph.D., 1995, "Violence Against Women: Estimates from the Redesigned Survey," National Crime Victimization Survey, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.)

Women were about six times more likely than men to experience violence committed by an intimate. (Ibid.)

The average sentence for criminals convicted of rape in the United States (and released in 1992) is 117 months. The average time served is 65 months, which equates to 56 percent of the actual sentence served. For crimes of sexual assault, the average sentence is 72 months, and the average time served is 35 months, equating to 49 percent of time served. (Greenfeld, Lawrence A., 1995, "Prison Sentences and Time Served for Violence," page 1, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.)

As of the end of 1994, 40 states provide for the registration of sex offenders. Most states impose the registration requirement on an offender at the time he or she is released on parole or probation, and the requirement usually continues for the duration of the parole or probation period, or for an average of 10 years. (National Victim Center, 1995, "Community Notification of the Release of Sex Offenders," page 1, Arlington, VA)

Every single minute in America, there are 1.3 forcible rapes of adult women; 78 women are forcibly raped each hour. Every day in America, 1,871 women are forcibly raped, equating to 56,916 forcible rapes every month. Every year in our country, 683,000 American women are forcible raped. (Kilpatrick, D., C. Edmunds, A. Seymour, April 1992, "Rape in America: A Report to the Nation, " from "The National Women's Study" sponsored by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, National Victim Center and National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center at the Medical University of South Carolina, Washdington, D.C.)

Thirteen percent of adult American women (or at least 12.1 million) have been victims of at least one forcible rape in their lifetime. (Ibid.)

More than six out of ten of all rape cases (61 percent) occurred before victims reached the age of eighteen. (Ibid.)

Only 16 percent of rapes are ever reported to police. Most cases were reported within 24 hours after the rape. However, a substantial minority (25 percent) was reported more than 24 hours after the rape. (Ibid.)

Rape has a devastating impact on the mental health of victims, with nearly one-third of all rape victims (31 percent) developing Rape-related Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (RR-PTSD) in their lifetimes. (Ibid.)

Rape-related Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (RR-PTSD) dramatically increases American women's risk for major alcohol and other drug abuse problems. Compared to women who have never been raped, rape victims with RR-PTSD were 13 times more likely to have two or more major alcohol problems (20.1 percent vs. 1.5 percent), and 26 times more likely to have two or more major drug abuse problems (7.8 percent vs. 0.3 percent). (Ibid.)

Pat Brown said...

Thanks for those stats, Anon, they are very telling.

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

Society can't do anything about the first time a sex offender strikes but we are entirely responsible if we allow to him to continue to commit crimes. Fritzl got a pass on an indecent exposure and an attempted rape. He should have served time for these. But, when he committed the violent rape of a stranger, THIS should have been life imprisonment. People who break into others houses or jump out from behind bushes and brutally assault complete strangers are serial rapists and serial killers. They will do it again if you don't put them some place where they will never have the opportunity.
Society let Fritzl out and they even cleared the crime from his record. This is appalling.

As to the wife and neighbors, it IS our responsibility as citizens to report child abuse and child endangerment. Incest is hardly a family matter (it makes me ill to think anyone would think this to be true). Incest is the sexual assault of a child who should have the same rights as any citizen to not be victimized. Likewise for children being beaten or caged in their homes. It is not a "family" problem; it is a crime.

I am not saying we should not hold the offender responsible. I am saying society should be responsible to hold the offender accountable for his actions. If they do not, shame on us.

TLTL said...

You know, women need to start a movement against men and put them in their places. Something like a revolution where we totally take over and strip them of their rights, use them for the things they are good for like fixing our cars, mowing grass, getting rodents out of the attic, sex whenever WE feel like it, etc. They should live in something equivalent to a barn with minimal food, drink and sleep & be at our beck and call. When they don't perform as they should we can beat the hell out of them until they do. As long as men are in charge and control of out country, rape, sexual abuse, child molestation and incest will NEVER be taken seriously. And it is all our [society's & women] fault because we allow them to treat us this way.

Levi Page said...

TLTL, that is a bunch of femi-nazi BS. Good lord, where do you come up with that crap?

Pat Brown said...

From The Times:

Fritzl prison has gym, choir and tennis

classesBojan Pancevski
A FORMER nunnery that has been converted into a comfortable modern prison is expected to be chosen by Josef Fritzl as the place in which to serve his life sentence.

Fritzl, 73, who was jailed last week for murder, rape, enslavement, coercion and incest after locking his daughter in his cellar for 24 years and fathering seven children by her, six of whom survived, is free under Austrian law to choose from three prisons that offer special sections for “psychologically abnormal” convicts.

According to his lawyer, Rudolf Mayer, he will select Garsten, a former Benedictine convent about 30 minutes’ drive from the house in the provincial town of Amstetten, where he held his daughter Elisabeth prisoner from the age of 18 and sexually abused her an estimated 3,000 times.

In Garsten he will be able to improve his English or study other foreign languages, as well as singing in the choir or training in a gym that is better-equipped than those of many hotels. As an inmate, he will be offered a wide variety of hobbies and entertainment, including tennis, darts and art classes.

Related Links
Elisabeth Fritzl seeks refuge in fortress home
Elizabeth Fritzl: unbroken despite the horror
The prison, set in woodland in the foothills of the Alps and considered one of the best in Austria, provides inmates with the light and fresh air that Fritzl’s victims were deprived of in their dank cellar.

Fritzl, an engineer who could in theory be released on parole after 15 years, will be able to indulge his passion for reading, as Garsten has one of the largest prison libraries in the country.

His fellow inmates will include a former TV presenter, Helmut Frodl, serving life for murdering a rival and dismembering his body with a chainsaw. Frodl is working on a PhD and is allowed out twice a month with an escort to discuss his thesis with a professor.

“The Austrian penal system aims not only at enforcing punishment, but also attempts to bring the inmate back within the norms of society,” said a spokesman for Austrian prisons last week when asked whether it was right that Fritzl should enjoy such a lax regime.

This week Fritzl will be taken to a clinic in Vienna, where psychia-trists will decide what kind of treatment would be appropriate before sending him to serve his sentence.

Elisabeth, 42, and her six children are facing an uncertain future. The family have been given new identities and were moved to a secret location but tabloid newspaper reporters tracked them down and are said to have broken in to take photographs.

The family are now back in the psychiatric clinic where they were treated on their release. Their therapy and living costs are being funded by the state.

Elisabeth and two adult children aged 18 and 19 are believed to be too traumatised to work. Should their father become too frail or senile to serve out his remaining sentence, he will be transferred to a prison retirement home, where he will be cared for by nurses for the rest of his life.

Anonymous said...

I would imagine this poor woman/daughter and all these kids must be so trumatized and really this abuse by this man has not ended. The damage has to be of a lasting kind that is permenant and emotionally crippling. So with all these "luxuries" that the *predator* is getting I would love to know what has been offered to his *victims* in the way of therapy and a free home with food until they are able to become well enough to have a real life.

Leah said...

I wonder why we don't do this with our victims - give them a new identity and life - when they have endured so much. We spend all our $$ protecting the criminals.

TLTL what novel idea. I don't see it happening though as long as women are in love with these jerks.

Anonymous said...

FleaStiff said: California kept a woman in prison who had done nothing more than stab a corpse.

Umm, maybe the last 50 times she stabbed her she was a corpse, but she wasnt a corpse when she first got stabby.

cheryl said...

She did more than stab a corpse(Even IF her and Tex Watson's more current stories are true)

She knew what was going down, and did nothing to stop it. She even admitted, in her memoirs, that she felt she was guilty of murder.

Did someone take Sharon Tate's pulse before she started stabbing? She knew there was a living baby inside of Tate. Did she make an anonymous call to authorities who could have at least saved the baby? No.

I do pity her. She's going to die soon, and I hope that she really has made peace with God.

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