The 20-year-old Iraqi was arrested on December 2nd at the Theresienbad swimming pool in Vienna’s Meidling district – shortly after the sex attack happened.
Austrian police did not initially release details of the rape in order to protect the victim, according to spokesman Colonel Johann Golob.
However, he told The Local that police did confirm a report in the Krone newspaper at the time, but would not provide any details about the attack. “Under Austrian law we are obliged to protect the victims of sexual attacks, as well as any family members. We only provide information about such attacks if the attacker is still at large and poses a danger to the public, but we arrested the man on the spot.”
He added that accusations that the police had tried to cover up the attack because of sensitivities about asylum seekers were totally unfounded. “When it comes to arresting and prosecuting offenders, we have a zero tolerance attitude,” he said.
The young boy was swimming at the pool by himself and had befriended a 15-year-old boy, who was with the Iraqi man. When the youngster went off to the showers after his swim the 20-year-old followed him and was able to persuade the boy to go into a toilet cubicle with him, where he assaulted him.
Afterwards the boy went to a lifeguard in tears and told him what had happened. The police were immediately called and were able to arrest the Iraqi on the spot, while the boy was taken to hospital suffering from serious injuries.
The Kronen Zeitung reported that during his interrogation the man attempted to excuse himself, saying that it had been a “sexual emergency” as he hadn’t had sex “for four months”.
When asked whether it was illegal to have sex with young boys in Iraq, the man said “such a thing is forbidden in any country in the world,” adding that he now realised it had been “a huge mistake”.
Police investigators say the 20-year-old man entered Austria on September 13th, travelling into the country via the Balkans.
In an interview with the Heute newspaper the boy’s mother, who is a single parent with five children, said she learnt what had happened when a member of the swimming pool’s management team called her on December 2nd to say that her son had been attacked.
She told Heute that her son loves swimming and she would often let him go to the pool after school, which is near to their home. She said that her boy still has psychological scars “which may never heal”, and that he has to take antidepressants and sleeping tablets.
She is originally from Serbia, and lived for five years in a Caritas house with other migrants and refugees.
She said that the Iraqi man’s explanation for why he attacked her son “made her blood boil” and that she hoped he would be given a tough sentence and made to serve it in an Austrian prison, before being deported. “I've heard about what happens to child molesters in prisons here,” she said.