Why do prisoners rape each other?
"If I was under pressure, it didn't matter the age of the victim" : His actions are unforgivable, but he is free
For this report, Tagesspiegel reporter Katja Füchsel was awarded the renowned Theodor Wolff Prize on June 18, 2020.
They know exactly what they would do to someone like him. Torsten Siebert says that he was only sitting next to two men on the S-Bahn the day before who were loudly outbidding each other with their ideas. Lock up, hissed one, forever. Tail off, the other one, or preferably the turnip right away! Torsten Siebert knew that he was meant and pretended not to hear anything.
Siebert has been outside for two and a half years, which doesn't mean he's free. He is one of 239 released sex offenders who live under special surveillance in Berlin because the courts and police fear that they could relapse. They are rapists and pedophiles, including a number of repeat offenders, who after many years of imprisonment now move freely in the anonymity of the big city.
Society fears and ostracizes him
Men like Siebert, who have lived on the fringes of society all their lives and are now supposed to become part of it. A society that fears and ostracizes them because they have offended their weakest. Can that go well?
- That's how the research went
The first of allfive meetings WithTorsten Siebert (Name changed) took place at the beginning of September 2019 in the forensic-therapeutic outpatient clinic. The 54-year-old agreed to look into all of hisJudgments and resolutions the Penal Enforcement Chamber, and exempted the therapists of the Forensic-Therapeutic Ambulance and his probation officers from theConfidentiality. We accompanied Torsten Siebert to the Tiergarten district court, him with his therapistvisited at home and attended a probation service appointment. Siebert agreed that any of his statements would match at least one otherChecked source becomes. Him areno advantages or benefits have been promised, only the entrance fee for the zoological garden has paid him the Tagesspiegel. Why he still be relentless about itLife and its crimes reported? Torsten Siebert says: "If I can only reach one of everyone who will read this, if only one person says: There is a person behind the crime who deserves a chance - then it was worth it."
The Berlin police have an eye on each of the risk candidates, but do not disclose any figures or details about the surveillance. The city map, on which investigators at the State Criminal Police Office marked the places of residence of the sex offenders at risk of relapse with colorful plastic spikes, remains secret: in order to avoid panic among the population and to protect those released from assault. We too have alienated all the names and places that could provide information about the real Torsten Siebert.
[Currently in the north of Berlin: Outdoor walkers in the residential area? Convicted Neighborhood Sex Offenders? Residents are concerned about a planned open execution - here is the current debate in the current Reinickendorf newsletter. The full length of the newsletter is available here people.tagesspiegel.de]
To talk, Torsten Siebert wants to go out, where nobody can listen and hate him, where he can run while thinking, smoke. This slim man with friendly brown eyes, who always seems to make himself a little smaller than he is at 1 meter 72, has nothing to gloss over, at 54 years of age, after three prison sentences and preventive detention. “I know what I've done,” says Torsten Siebert as he sits down on a bench in the Berlin zoo. A water buffalo looks up in its enclosure, chewing on a bundle of hay.
Siebert pulls a packet of Red Bull tobacco, a rotating device and papers out of his black shoulder bag. “They have water buffalos,” says Siebert, “they also have them on the rice fields in China.” He speaks the hard, undisguised Berlinerisch that is mostly only heard in Brandenburg. As he rolls his cigarette, his knuckles dance under faded scars.
You can still see the scars from the prison tattoos
Before Torsten Siebert was released, he had the tattoos, a cross, a spider and a ring, razed from his hands. He would also like to get rid of the other prison tattoos ("dog heads, women's heads, monster heads, spider heads ..."), which are spread over the arms, back and legs.
The fact that Siebert can now look at the animals in their cages here at the zoo is not due to his regrets. Nor is it because of his good conduct that he can blow the smoke into the blue autumn sky, even though he raped his own sister, his wife's niece and stepdaughters and was in preventive detention for just 18 months after serving his last sentence would have. Three and a half years ago Siebert decided to have an injection in jail, suppressing his urges with the help of strong drugs.
At the beginning of September, it's one of those late summer days in Berlin that feels like midsummer when Siebert climbs a staircase to the second floor at 9 a.m. He has rolled up the sleeves of his shirt and a silver cross hangs on his necklace. Because he likes it, not because he believes.
100 clients: murderers, killers, pedophiles
"Forensic-therapeutic ambulance" is written on the doorbell. The door is secured with an intercom and camera. In the FTA, housed in the former laundry of the Tegel correctional facility, next to the main gate on Seidelstrasse, doctors and therapists take care of the hard cases: 100 violent criminals, pedophiles, also murderers and killers, many with a difficult prognosis.
It's time for Siebert's three-month deposit: In the laboratory, a doctor's room with a couch, body scales, and a refrigerator, Siebert sits on the patient's chair and receives 11.25 milligrams of Salvacyl injected into his right arm. Salvacyl, once developed for cancer therapy, is now considered the most effective anti-androgenic treatment.
Siebert wants the syringe - forever
The active ingredient has side effects, it changes bone density, leads to pain and hot flashes. Nevertheless, Siebert never wants to go without it again. “I also live a lot quieter,” he says. In the past, only one thing determined his life, drove him out of the house every day, even on his outdoor walks he looked for young women and girls in order to stock up on “new material for fantasies”. What he must have done in his cell when he was caught after his first rape, Siebert asks and gives the answer himself right away. "I thought about the deed and pissed me off."
At the moment nothing is moving at Siebert. "Many feel liberated when the mental cinema stops and the stress subsides," says Tatjana Voss, the head of the ambulance. In 2016, a prison doctor gave him Salvacyl for the first time after measuring high testosterone levels in the prisoner. While up to 25.7 nanomoles per liter are considered normal, Sieberts value was 36.3.
Antiandrogenic treatment works in the hormone-regulating center of the brain, the pituitary gland, where human reproduction and sexuality are controlled. As the testosterone levels in Siebert's body drop, so do the fantasies.
The leader says: "The most important thing is the protection of the children"
From her desk, Tatjana Voss looks out over the barbed-wire-secured walls of Germany's largest prison. "The most important thing is to protect the children," says the psychiatrist. Always only talking about being locked away and marginalizing the perpetrators for life increases the risk even more. Not only in Germany, but also in New Zealand and the USA, it has been shown that the therapy is "most effective when you treat sex offenders respectfully and humanely". In current studies, it is currently assumed that there is a relevant risk of relapse for sexual offenses of just under ten percent. The FTA is below 7.5 percent despite its particularly difficult clientele.
Doctors, therapists, addiction helpers, social workers, probation officers, judges, police - it is a network that tries largely unnoticed by the public in Berlin to prevent relapses despite a poor social prognosis. All positions are in contact with each other and ideally inform each other immediately if the candidate begins to lurch.
This is how the network works. Click for details
In LKA 13, the Central Office Spree (sex offender prevention in the event of a risk of relapse through intervention measures and investigations) has been taking care of “full-time servants from the high-risk area” for ten years. After his release, Siebert received frequent visits from civil officials. When the suspicion arises that he is drinking again, although he is forbidden to do so for the time of the supervision, they put him under surveillance. A snapshot is taken when Siebert puts six bottles of beer on the conveyor belt at Penny's. When he goes to Dresden with a friend, “Spree” asks his Saxon colleagues to drop by the hotel. The positive alcohol test costs Siebert in January 2018 a fine of 150 daily rates of 20 euros each.
Siebert is now doing his rounds in the Berlin zoo, his hands buried in the pockets of his black thermal jacket. He hardly looks up, doesn't want to eat or drink anything, just talk: about his life, his guilt, his hope. If it were up to him, i.e. Siebert, who renounces sex today, the injection would be a duty for all sex offenders - basic rights or no. “For those who look at the pictures of the children. That's just the beginning, they want more later. ”Nobody is fooling him, he knows that from his own experience.
As a punishment, the boy is chained to the heater
Siebert was born in 1965, the seventh of 13 children, on a farm in the Brandenburg province. The father and the older brothers work for the LPG, the younger siblings have to help on the farm after school. The mother is an unyielding woman who chains the children to the heater or sends them to the plum tree as punishment. "Below she tied the vicious German Shepherd," says Siebert.
He was eleven when his mother died, bowel obstruction. The five youngest come to the home, where Torsten develops into a problem child and fails at the end of the 8th grade. A fat boy who is shy to the point of speechlessness. He is 14 when the father remarries and brings the children back home. The stepmother beats him "until the knot is broken". He tears the belt out of her hand and it across her face.
Torsten comes back to the home, skips school, runs away, now has to go to the youth work yard, continues skipping. "I knew that nobody wanted me at home - but I always wanted to go back."
Two men push him into the cellar
He hitchhiked to Leipzig, where two men spoke to him who took him with them, pushed him into a cellar, rape and beat him up. After hours he managed to escape, running naked through the backyards, tearing uniform trousers off a clothesline and being noticed by the People's Police at the train station. She sends him back to the home - that's it. For everything else, what is not allowed to exist under socialism does not exist. Siebert begins to drink.
In Torgau "it's really getting down to business"
At 16, the boy will stay for three monthsto the notorious youth work center in Torgaucleverly. A prison with high walls and bars in front of the windows, where drill and abuse are part of everyday life. "It really got down to business," says Siebert. He spent the first three days in the bunker, a cell tiled all around, with an opening ten centimeters high on each wall. "They let the water in in the morning so that you couldn't lie down during the day."
Back at the first youth work yard, he finished an apprenticeship as a concrete worker in 1983, but his entire life would never last longer than a few months with an employer. At GST, the Society for Sport and Technology, he earned his first red stripes on his uniform. The GST, a mass organization in the GDR, is also responsible for pre-military training. Siebert gets his own company and feels very lucky when he lets her crawl through the mud: “I'm upstairs and you are down there. I can do what I want, I can punish you, and you have to obey me! "
It sounds like an awakening experience
It sounds like an awakening experience. Siebert has long since developed a "dissocial personality disorder", cannot feel guilt or pity, knows no consideration, no sense of responsibility, never thinks about tomorrow and always only about himself. "When I was under pressure, it didn't matter whether the victim was eleven, 23 or 30. It doesn't matter."
Four children - he has no contact with any of them
In 1986 he met his first girlfriend. A daughter emerges from the six-week relationship, he moves on, never pays alimony. At the age of 24 he meets Anke, they get married and have three children. "The defendant did not have any contact with these children either," said the judgment of the Potsdam Regional Court in 2007. When the first child was born, Siebert and his fantasies had long since ceased to be with Anke.
The more Siebert drinks, the more dangerous he becomes. In August 1992, Siebert, who is 27, raped a friend of his friend in his Wartburg. In February 1993 he attacks his drunk 26-year-old sister, he calls it "a spontaneous action". The District Court of Frankfurt (Oder) sentenced him to four and a half years in prison for both acts. In 1998 he raped his wife's 13-year-old niece - and went to prison for another five years.
He continues to drink 20 bottles of beer a day
When he is released, he is under management supervision. He continues to drink, 20 bottles of beer a day, sometimes wine. His probation officer does not intervene when Siebert skips the appointments and moves in with his new girlfriend and her daughters - although he is forbidden to approach children. What happens next, the chief doctor of the city children's clinic described in the later trial as the worst case of his career. Siebert says: "At some point I was more focused on Katrin and Hanna than on the mother."
Siebert abuses the girls several times, ties them up, beats them and strangles them. He raped the eleven-year-old daughter three times in a row. The Frankfurt (Oder) regional court sentenced him to eight years in 2007 - with subsequent preventive detention because he was a “danger to the general public”.
The wounds that Torsten Siebert inflicted on women and children will never heal. More than half of Germans demand that sex offenders be locked up forever. Probably the most terrible thing about the desire for eternal damnation is that it is so understandable. And at the same time so irrational: Torsten, the abused child, would have heard all of her sympathy. Siebert, the adult, only reaps their hatred.
He yells: "You are a wretched child fucker!"
In 2012, what no one thought was possible happens: Siebert begins to come to terms with his crimes in the social-therapeutic residential group execution of the prison. He says that the therapy made him feel guilty for the first time, that he became aware of what he did to women and girls, and how he had exploited their trust. He develops a “barbaric hatred” for himself, stands in front of the mirror and yells: “You are a miserable child fucker!” Siebert falls into depression, a suicide attempt fails.
Suddenly he stands in front of his victim
He develops into a model prisoner. In 2016 he had already served his sentence, is in preventive detention and is being prepared for release. At an exit, his victim suddenly appears in front of him on the steps of the station: Katrin, now 19 years old, stares at him with wide eyes. He didn't even recognize her at first, then ran down the stairs to hide in the toilet. When he dares to come out again, Katrin sits on a bench and waves him over. She asked very calmly: “I just want to know one thing: why?” And he said: “Oh, girl, you were the weakest link. Your mother would have fought back. "
By the time he sat on the bench, Siebert knew that the girls had not fared well. “You think you can do it, but it always catches up with you,” Katrin had told the “Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung” during his detention.Siebert ruined her life, after his arrest everything got out of hand. The child psychiatrist cannot reach the adolescents, she comes to the home, takes drugs, goes through phases of anorexia.
The stepdaughter wants to hate him - but she can't
She had her first miscarriage when she was 15, and a little later she gave birth to a boy whom she placed in a foster family. Katrin tells the "MAZ" what she then tells Siebert at the bank: that she would like to hate him, but still "somehow love". She doesn't want to talk about her stepfather's actions anymore: Inquiries from the Tagesspiegel about her lawyer and social media go unanswered.
Why he? Why not any of his siblings?
Siebert can no longer count the number of times he has spoken about his crimes and addictions in the past few years. But until today nobody has been able to explain one thing to him: Why him? So many siblings - but he is the only one who has developed into a sex offender.
So you could say: bad luck, Herr Siebert.
Behind a paraphilia, i.e. deviant sexual behavior, according to experts, there is an unfortunate interplay of genetic factors with an adverse environment.
The judgment of the Potsdam Regional Court was fully culpable. Even if Siebert has not chosen his pedophile and sadistic tendencies, he is responsible for his own behavior. But society, which demands full severity without mercy for child molesters, does not want to accept that they too bear responsibility.
Siebert was the only one to survive
Siebert's family never got over their mother's death. In the prison, the guards brought him one death note after another. "The father only drank, I only knew him blue." When they took a smoker's leg from him in 1995, he did not survive the operation. The youngest brother dies when he escapes from the police over a railway barrier. And the others? “Almost all of them drank their brains away.” In 2017, the last sister died, lung cancer.
Only a few weeks later, on August 7th, Siebert was released into a freedom that for him meant above all loneliness. For therapists, social workers and doctors, the real opponents are isolation, poverty, and hopelessness.
Leadership supervision applies to Siebert until August 2022: If he does not want to go back to prison, he is not allowed to approach his victims and therefore had to move to Berlin. He is not allowed to make contact with "children and young people under the age of 18, may not train, employ or host them"; he is forbidden to live in playgrounds or schools. Alcohol is taboo, he has to regularly check his urine, take his medication and keep appointments with the network's helpers. Any violation of any of the instructions is considered a crime.
He sweeps leaves, collects rubbish
Every morning at 8 o'clock, Siebert goes out on behalf of the Green Spaces Department, sweeps leaves, collects rubbish and clears weed paths in order to supplement his Hartz IV money with the 220 euros. He has 644 euros per month and the job center pays the 397 euros basic rent.
This afternoon Sandra Schauen, his therapist from the FTA, announced that she would be making her first home visit. Siebert likes looking, also or maybe precisely because she sees through his little lies and excuses. The therapist, 44 years old, tall, slender, with long brown hair, has been working for the ambulance since 2011. She has no illusions about Siebert.
"Mr. Siebert is a wobbly candidate"
"He's a wobbly candidate," says Schauen. Siebert keeps pretty much everyone in suspense in the network of helpers and controllers. "Since his release, we had to put out one fire source after the next." Because Siebert first violated the alcohol ban, then did not get involved in the addiction service, almost lost his apartment because of his debts, refused an alcohol check, violated the ban on contact ...
The therapist takes off her sneakers in the hallway, walks through the one-room apartment on socks and heads straight for the head-high cage with the parakeets.
"What's the name of who?"
“Nicki, Charly and Moritz,” says Siebert. The budgies had already flown through his cell in the prison, the beautiful parakeet came later. His bike is in front of the wardrobe, next to it are the dumbbells that he lifts every evening. Sometimes twelve, sometimes 15 kilos.
The therapist brings cake: from the prison bakery
Sandra Looking moves through the apartment like a guest, albeit not a particularly discreet one. “May I have a look at your kitchen?” She goes out onto the balcony, looks slightly disapprovingly at the loudly running TV, looks into the bathroom for a moment before she collapses into the armchair. Blick brought cakes from the prison bakery, chocolate and cherry pastries. Siebert gives you cola and water from colorful plastic cups.
Siebert's finger runs through the air as he explains the photos that are spread across the shelves and walls in the living room. “This is my group from Sotha,” he says. Siebert can be seen standing over the couch next to a young woman: his daughter Lina. He had written her a letter from prison and she - herself the mother of an eleven year old son and a four year old daughter - was ready to meet him at a guarded exit to go shopping in the Ringcenter. The daughter's attachment grows when the 27-year-old realizes that the father is extremely generous with the 10,000 euros from the children's home fund. He paid for the grandson's school enrollment, a party, rent debts, electricity - until he was broke and the daughter again kept her distance.
Next to the birdcage is a photo of Siebert's son Kevin. The boy is now 24, alcoholic and, after therapy, is living in assisted living. A quiet, reserved guy, the only one in the family who has kept a photo of him and also gives him a hug. “We have a lot more in common,” says Siebert. Next week he wants to take Kevin to his support group for the first time.
The first year is celebrated: in the chip shop
That leaves Kühlmann, Siebert's best friend. He met him 25 years ago in jail, who was charged with murder for beating his girlfriend to death. Kühlmann has passed his probationary period, lives dry and is involved in addiction help. “I want to be like him,” says Siebert. Kühlmann is always there for him when the pressure of drinking increases, when it no longer helps to snip the rubber band against his arm to distract himself or to pound his thigh with his fist.
Sandra Schauen maintains a ritual with her clients: Once the first year of freedom is over, she goes to party with them - for a Coke in the Tegeler chip shop. She is there with Siebert in the summer of 2018, and both are a little proud that they can sink their spoons into the pea soup here. "We patted each other on the shoulder in our thoughts."
You rejoiced too soon.
Siebert will be standing on September 17, 2019 in front of the Tiergarten district court. In the name of the people, it will be a shit who has washed up. Torsten Siebert sits in his black thermal jacket in front of the bench and ducks his head. The judge, a small woman with a great temperament, hits the table with her fist so that her curls dance: “You screwed up - again! You drink, you have contact with children. Do you want to go back to jail by force? You have nothing to do with children. Ain't, null, off! No! Let it be! No and no again! When a child comes to visit: go! Right away! Get up, take your jacket, get out! "
The control showed: 0.16 per mille
The prosecutor accuses Siebert of violating his conditions three times: on September 5, 2018, he refuses to undergo an alcohol test, on November 7, a breath alcohol test carried out at 12.40 p.m. shows 0.16 per mille. And on September 29, 2018, he "approached" a three-year-old girl. He is sitting in the living room of his daughter Lina when she receives a visit from a friend with her three-year-old girl. Everyone says “Hello”, then the child disappears into the next room with Siebert's grandchildren, who are exempt from contact. Because he does not leave the apartment immediately, he violates his instructions for the third time.
The LKA followed up
Siebert had told a supervisor about the overnight visit and got involved in contradictions. Then "Spree" followed up: The officials questioned the daughter, initiated the procedure.
There is a lot going on in room 456 that day, Siebert knows: “It can be a fine, it can be suspended, but also a prison sentence.” In the morning he is sitting in front of the room an hour early, sliding on the chair back and forth, rubbing his palms, running his hand over his stubbly skull. “You see,” says Siebert and holds out his fluttering hands.
Two empty metal chairs down, a young woman: his daughter Lina has come to inform the court that Pete, their nine-year-old son, does not want to say anything about the day the grandpa visited her in the new apartment in Oranienburg. Tight pants, gray training jacket, white top. Hair dyed black, three silver plugs in the left ear. The two hardly exchange a word. At the LKA, Lina has denied that she has been bothering her father for years. "What is it for one? The minder? ”She asks when a judicial officer disappears into the room. The verdict would have been pronounced long ago if the 22-year-old had not missed the last two court dates.
Siebert gets away with a fine
For six minutes the judge's tirade pours over the defendant. Their verdict sounds harsh, the penalty is mild: 200 daily rates of 25 euros each. The fact that he was able to avoid a prison sentence was also due to Siebert's fact that the judge was convinced of the control of the network - especially through the LKA and probation service. "You should make three crosses for your probation officer, he'll take care of it."
The probation officer would have lost a bet
Three weeks later, a Friday in Wedding, Schönstedtstrasse 5. Court and probation officer Thomas Fetting is waiting for his client in office 268. If someone had bet with him, Fetting would have lost. “I was sure that Siebert would not get away with a fine this time.” In front of the 33-year-old is the Siebert file, a mighty pack of paper that has grown a little with every breach of instructions. The Potsdam public prosecutor's office has twice applied for Siebert to be put back in preventive detention. So far, the judge at the regional court has always refused.
In front of the Tiergarten district court, Fetting had testified as a witness and recommended that Siebert be instructed to undergo three-month alcohol therapy “for educational reasons” - in vain. It's a shame, says Fetting. “That would have made my work easier.” He doesn't think much of the effectiveness of the fines when it is actually about an addiction problem.
Around 400 sex offenders, all on parole
Fetting is part of "Sima", which was founded three years ago in Berlin and works closely with Sandra Schauen from the FTA, the independent institutions and the Penal Enforcement Chamber. The "security management" troop consists of ten probation officers who are in Wedding to all the sex offenders in towntake care: Help and control is the motto. “I see myself as a specialist coach who is familiar with criminal offenses,” says Fetting. The probation officers look after around 400 sex offenders in Berlin - including a handful of women - not all serious cases like Siebert, around a third are first-time offenders with a suspended sentence.
3 p.m., Siebert knocks, punctual as always. He sits down at the round visitor's table and unpacks the latest verdict, five closely written pages.
“So,” says Fetting while forcing his legs under the table top. A bearded giant who likes to laugh.
Type: real buddy - but don't be kidding me.
The official language today is Berlinerisch
Like Siebert, Fetting grew up in Brandenburg, the official language today is Berlinerisch. The probation officer leans back and announces: Time for a balance sheet, "we have half over".
Siebert tilts his head and smiles uncertainly, as if he were arming himself for a lecture.
“What have you achieved in the last two and a half years?” Asks Fetting.
"Hmmm, what have I achieved ..."
"You have to think of something!"
"There have been so many negative things lately ..."
Siebert looks at the ceiling, has an idea: “That I have not committed any sexual offenses. It wasn't like that before. "
"Can you think of anything else?"
"Hm, I can't think of anything."
"What are you drinking at the moment?"
Siebert laughs, looks genuinely surprised. “Well, nothing - I've been dry since the seventh oilt!” For a year. "You see," says Fetting. "So far, nobody in your family has managed that."
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