Was passiert mit straffälligen Beamten - Strafrecht MPP

Abuse of power at Göttingen University – what happens to delinquent civil servants?

Sadly, the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen has had to deal with several incidents in recent years in which lecturers have blatantly exploited their position of power over female students.

A professor of forestry and whale ecology was accused of unwanted touching, sexist remarks and excessive alcohol consumption in 44 cases. The Göttingen Administrative Court was able to establish misconduct and sexual harassment in several cases (VG Göttingen v. 11.10.2023, Ref. 5 A 2/18).

In May 2018, a former lecturer in the Department of Biology allegedly sexually harassed a female student during a research project in the forest by masturbating in her presence “for research purposes” and ejaculating on a meat sample. In doing so, he allegedly kneaded her buttocks and stroked her back. The man was sentenced to a suspended sentence of six months by the Göttingen Regional Court.

Another professor of forestry had to answer to the Göttingen Regional Court for the first time in 2022.

The now convicted university lecturer used physical violence against several female employees over a long period of time – a doctoral student who had come to Germany for her dissertation was particularly affected. Between 2014 and 2016, the professor regularly summoned her to his office, locked the door from the inside and hit his employee on the (sometimes unclothed) buttocks, calves and chest with a bamboo stick about 60 cm long.

He apparently regarded the physical abuse as a kind of “punishment ritual” – a measure that sounds like it comes from the last century. The doctoral student in question put up with the violence and humiliation because her employer announced that he would otherwise terminate the supervision of her dissertation. In two incidents, he told her that he wanted to “prepare herfor a future job“. The doctoral student then feared for her professional and financial future.

During the trial, the defence wanted to create the impression that the victim must have been familiar with beatings as a punishment ritual from her home country of Vietnam; a strategy that probably did not work, not least because of its racist and sexist basis – the court rejected the defence’s corresponding motions for evidence.

The Göttingen Regional Court (judgement of 30 March 2022, 1 KLs 11/19) sentenced the defendant to a suspended sentence of eleven months.

Following a successful appeal by the public prosecutor’s office and the joint plaintiff, the sentence is now 18 months’ suspended imprisonment for dangerous bodily harm in office (Section 340 (1), (3) in conjunction with Section 224 (1) No. 2 Alt. 2 StGB), coercion (Section 240 StGB) and deprivation of liberty (Section 239 StGB). In addition, the professor must pay a sum of money to the Göttingen women’s refuge as well as to the doctoral student and other women affected.

The increased threat of punishment in Section 340 StGB already makes it clear that civil servants occupy a special position in criminal law. The thirtieth section of the Criminal Code (Sections 331 to 358) regulates the special features for public officials in detail.

But what do offenders face in addition to the consequences under criminal law with regard to their status as civil servants?

The requirements for an actual exclusion from civil servant status are high: A glance at Section 24 of the Civil Servant Status Act (BeamtStG) reveals that civil servants only lose their civil servant status if they have been sentenced to at least one year’s imprisonment for an intentional offence or at least six months’ imprisonment for certain state security offences or bribery.

The corresponding consequences are governed by Sections 33 et seq. of the Lower Saxony Civil Service Act (NBG ).

Pursuant to Section 33 (1) sentence 1 NBG, the former civil servant is not entitled to any benefits from the employer. This means that not only the salary but also all pension entitlements, including surviving dependants’ pensions, are lost. The persons concerned therefore no longer have any pension entitlements and are subsequently insured by law (Section 8 II 1 No. 1 of the Sixth Social Security Code). Should the judgement of the Göttingen Regional Court become legally binding, the professor who was sentenced last would have to be prepared for such consequences.

The other two offenders faced milder consequences. The professor of biology was only sentenced to six months probation and is therefore allowed to continue working at the university. The judgement is not yet final.

The Professor of Forest Science and Forest Ecology, who had to answer to the Administrative Court, got off even lighter. His salary has been reduced by two levels and he now earns 2,000 euros less per month, while his civil servant status remains untouched – a judgement that, according to the press office, was received “with great surprise” by the University of Göttingen.

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