A German court on Thursday sentenced a 36-year-old man to the maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for the kidnapping and repeated sexual assault of a schoolgirl.
The court in Dresden also ordered that Mario Mederake be subject to detention upon his release to protect society. Mederake, who had a previous conviction for raping a 14-year-old in 1999, had admitted kidnapping and holding the then 13-year-old girl named Stephanie captive as well as repeatedly raping her over a five-week period beginning in January.
"We have always said that a punishment bordering on the maximum sentence followed by preventative detention was possible," Christian Avenarius, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office, said on Thursday. "We wish Stephanie and her family all the best and that she is able to find peace."
During the trial, the prosecutors showed a wooden box Mederake locked Stephanie in when he left the apartment where he held her captive.
"The defendant kidnapped her to satisfy his demands, mainly of a sexual nature, for a period without end," said presiding judge Tom Maciejewski. "Every day he performed humiliating sexual acts on her."
She was only freed by police when she managed to drop a scrap of paper in the street that carried a desperate plea for help and the address where she was being imprisoned scrawled in red pen.
Mentally fit to stand trial
Stephanie, now 14 years old, did not testify in the trial after a psychologist's certificate said she was too frightened to face Mederake in court. Another analysis declared Mederake mentally capable of standing trial and said he continued to pose a threat to society.
Her family voiced relief outside the court on Thursday.
"It has helped Stephanie that the trial has been in the public eye," Stephanie's father, Joachim Rudolph, told journalists. "We are one hundred percent relieved. We will now try to have a good Christmas and take things step by step."
After testimony in the case concluded on Tuesday, Mederake asked Stephanie, who he kidnapped on her way to school, and her family for forgiveness.
Defense lawyer Andreas Boine, chose not comment on the sentence, but said he would consult with his client.
Police slip-ups prolonged trial
In a dramatic turn in the case, Mederake, escaped from warders in November and climbed onto a prison roof where he remained for about 20 hours.
When the trial continued, it detailed several other police blunders including how authorities overlooked the fact that the pedophile lived a few blocks from the kidnapped girl's home and how indecisive officers spent two hours outside the locked door of the Dresden apartment where Stephanie was imprisoned.
"We thought no one was at home," a detective testified, describing the Feb. 15 arrest. It was decided to pick the lock and quietly inspect the place so that Mederake would not notice. When a locksmith set to work, Mederake opened the door.
Mederake told the court he had used the two hours to phone his own 12-year-old daughter and say goodbye before his impending arrest.
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