Why this story matters:
Toni Sailer was the Austrian athlete of the century -- a folk hero, a movie star, a style icon. He now has another title: accused rapist.
Information has emerged that police in Zakopane, Poland had investigated a claim of rape against Sailer in 1974. Sailer was in the country to compete in a slalom World Cup.
The fact that it took four decades for the story to comes to light suggests that authorities invested great effort to protect the reputation of a sports star. While researching the story, journalists of Der Standard, Dossier and Ö1 were repeatedly asked: must you really write about this?
The 1970s were a different time, people say. But the MeToo debate of 2017 shows that abusers can still walk away in our time as well. In his article on "File Sailer," Der Standard editor Fritz Neumann writes:
"To this day, it is difficult to engage in an open discourse on sexual violence and abuse, and victims often find it difficult to report what has happened to them because they fear the consequences."
Indeed, there are many reasons why Toni Sailer's act could only be reported 44 years later.
Details from the story:
- Austria's ski star Toni Sailer is the talk of Austrian media because he is accused of raping a woman 44 years ago.
- On March 5, 1974, Sailer allegedly attacked the woman in Zakopane, Poland, where a slalom World Cup was being held. The woman was later found to have significant injuries.
- Sailer died of cancer in 2009 at age 73. His alleged victim is also deceased.