Austrian police investigate 17 people on suspicion of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl

VIENNA (AP) — Austrian police said Friday they are investigating 17 people, most of them minors, on suspicion of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl over a period of several months.

Twelve of the suspects are minors between the ages of 14 and 18, one is 19, two are below the age of criminal responsibility, which is 14 in Austria, and the identities of two others are unknown, said Florian Finda, a senior official with Vienna's state criminal police office. They include Austrian, Turkish, Syrian, Italian, Bulgarian and Serbian nationals.

They are suspected of serious sexual abuse of a minor and pornographic depiction of a minor, Finda said.

The offenses are alleged to have taken place between February and June 2023 in garages, at perpetrators' apartments and other locations in Vienna. In one case, force allegedly was used; in the rest, the victim was verbally pressured into sex, investigators said.

The victim and her mother reported the case to authorities in October.

Following extensive investigations, the 13 known suspects ages 14 and above were questioned on Thursday, Finda said. Some admitted to the allegations and others rejected them; one of them was arrested for resisting officers. Investigators are still examining material on their cellphones.