'Australian Fritzl' on incest, rape charges

Last updated 14:18 17/09/2009

Abuse charges shock Australia

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An Australian man raped his daughter almost daily for 30 years and fathered her four children, in a case that echoes Austria's Fritzl incest horror, according to reports.

The revelations of the Latrobe Valley man's reign of terror have rocked Victoria, a day after the Ombudsman slammed the state's record on child protection.

The man, in his 60s, is charged with multiple counts of rape and incest in a case that echoes Austria's Fritzl incest horror.

The Age has learnt the man, who cannot be named, was initially charged with 83 offences, most of which have been withdrawn by police, but now faces 13 charges - five of incest, five of rape, two of indecently assaulting a girl under the age of 16 and one of assault. He is due to appear in a Melbourne court in November.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman would confirm only that charges had been laid against the man. She would not say what or how many they were, or when police had become involved in the case.

The accused lived with his wife, daughter and her children in a Latrobe Valley town. A News Limited paper claimed authorities had been warned of the man's activities years ago but had failed to investigate.

An ''extremely appalled'' Community Services Minister Lisa Neville said she had no knowledge of the case until today's reports and her department would immediately investigate.

''I do not know what or if there has been any involvement of the police, the department or any other agencies over that 30-year period,'' Ms Neville said.

"They are only allegations and are before the courts at the moment and we need to be very careful about how much detail we go into.

"This will be a priority to look into.''

The News Limited newspaper reports the alleged rapes started in the 1970s when the victim was about 11 and continued until 2007.

It reports all the victim's four children were born with birth defects in major Melbourne hospitals. One of the children later died.

The woman reportedly spoke to police at Morwell, in Gippsland, eastern Victoria, in 2005 after a neighbour intervened, but she declined to cooperate 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 reports. Police conducted DNA tests on the father and, in February, laid 83 charges of sex abuse against him.

Child welfare advocates are demanding a full inquiry, with claims authorities failed to investigate the alleged abuse.

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The victim's mother claims she was unaware of any abuse despite sharing a house with her daughter, husband and grandchildren until 2005.

The newspaper says the accused man's wife had denied knowing of any assaults or who fathered her daughter's children.

It quotes sources saying the case could be "every bit as bad" as that of Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who imprisoned his daughter and fathered seven children with her.

- with AAP

- The Age

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