Why this story matters:
In 2011, 13-year-old G., a child with an intellectual disability, entered "The Children House", a private boarding house in Piraeus, with a court order, seeking the security and protection that could not be guaranteed by his own parents.
A few months later he told one of his professors at the high school he was attending that he was being subjected to abuse by Konstantinos Lalaounis, the chairman of the boarding house. He said that the chairman called him “my girl”, that he isolated him in the elevator, in the basements and in the toilets, touching him and behaving inappropriately. Alarmed by the child’s words the teacher decided to file a written report to the independent authority of Ombudsman of the Child, early in 2012.
It was not the first time that there had been complaints from former residents of the boarding house.
At the end of the same year, the Ombudsman submitted a confidential memorandum to the Minor Prosecutor’s Office, who ordered an urgent preliminary investigation and then a main interrogation. The testimonies of twelve children, workers and two social workers of the National Center for Social Solidarity, who investigated the case, revealed a twisted environment in which Lalaounis exercised absolute authority.
The trial began on July 21, 2017 during which four children described their life at the boarding house, describing situations of deprivation of liberty, extreme autocracy, arbitrariness and torture. They reported that the defendant would pick on the weakest children and isolate them, touching their genitals and backs and biting them on the neck and lips.
The children also described how Lalaounis would force them into doing particularly heavy jobs, resorting to verbal and physical abuse whenever they did something wrong.
The court sentenced Lalaounis to 40 years' imprisonment without suspension. The case went to the Court of Appeals in May 21, 2018. The next trial is this Friday.
UPD: The court of Appeal convicted Lalaounis in 28 years of imprisonment. The decision was unanimous.
Details from the story:
- The children reported physical and psychological violence. They testify that the chairman frequently punished them by slapping them in the face and in the head, by kicking them and by depriving them of food and exercise.
- The chairman seems to have sought to cut the children off from their classmates and family members by controlling every communication.
- The defense advocates’ attempted to argue that the children were saying those things out of retaliation for the rigorous pedagogical method followed by the accused and because they want to claim financial compensation from a probable future claim.
- It should be stressed out that the prosecution was brought by the Prosecutor’s Office itself and that the children did not proceed with complaints but testified about what they knew when they were summoned to the preliminary examination and the investigation procedure.