, MELBOURNE, Sep 17 – An Australian man raped his daughter almost daily for 30 years and fathered her four children in a case that echoes the notorious incest crimes of Josef Fritzl in Austria, a report said Thursday.
The man, now aged in his 60s, began abusing his daughter in the 1970s when she was 11 and continued for three decades even after authorities received warnings about his behaviour, Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper said.
The newspaper said the man’s wife denied any knowledge of the alleged abuse, saying police decided to prosecute after receiving DNA evidence that the man was the father of his daughter’s children.
Local media likened the alleged crimes to those committed by Fritzl, who was jailed for life in May for imprisoning and raping his daughter for 24 years and murdering one of the seven children he had with her.
Victoria police refused to confirm details of the case, saying it was subject to a court-imposed suppression order banning reporting of proceedings and identifying the accused.
The state’s Community Services Minister Lisa Neville described the alleged abuse, which reportedly occurred in a regional area about 100 kilometres (about 60 miles) east of Melbourne, as "appalling".
"I don’t know what, or if any, involvement the police, the department or other agencies have had over the last 30 years," she told public broadcaster ABC.
"This is a case that’s gone on for 30 years. Obviously this will be a priority to look into."
State Premier John Brumby said he would investigate how the case had gone unnoticed for so long.
"I haven’t had a report on the case but I can only say, speaking in very general terms, these are the worst, worst possible cases and obviously the full force of the law will be applied," he said.
The Herald Sun said all the victim’s four children were born with birth defects in major Melbourne hospitals. One of them, a girl, later died as a result of her health problems.
The victim’s mother told the Herald Sun her daughter would "clam up" when questioned about who fathered her children, giving vague answers about meeting men in nightclubs.
She described her husband as moody and abusive but said she never suspected him of sexual abuse.
"We lived in a big house, so I wouldn’t have known," she told the newspaper. "He had a very sharp tongue. He was a drinker."
The newspaper said the victim reported the abuse to police in 2005 after a neighbour urged her to take action, but then refused to cooperate further because she feared for her safety.
However, she went to police again in June last year and gave a statement against her father, the newspaper said. Police conducted DNA tests on the father and laid 83 charges of sex abuse against him in February.
One neighbour told the paper that she had harboured suspicions about the man for at least four years but took no action because she did not want to interfere.
"I didn’t go to anybody because it wasn’t anybody’s business," she said, accusing the woman who encouraged to victim to report the crime of being a "busybody."
Melbourne’s The Age newspaper said the charges had since been reduced to 13, including five of incest, five of rape and two of indecently assaulting a girl under 16. It said he would appear in court in November.