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Raoul reunited with his family in Switzerland

The 11-year-old Swiss-American boy at the centre of a controversial sexual molestation case hugged his family Friday in their first reunion since he was led away in handcuffs at night from his home in the U.S. state of Colorado 2 1/2 months ago.

This content was published on November 12, 1999 - 18:06

The 11-year-old Swiss-American boy at the centre of a controversial sexual molestation case hugged his family Friday in their first reunion since he was led away in handcuffs at night from his home in the U.S. state of Colorado 2 1/2 months ago.

Raoul Wüthrich was given a huge white teddy bear almost his size by one of his sisters after he arrived in Zurich on an overnight flight from Chicago.

Raoul was allowed to leave the United States after a judge in Colorado dismissed incest and sexual assault charges against the boy on procedural grounds.

The parents said they fled the U.S. for fear the girls would also be taken from them. Raoul traveled with honorary Swiss consul Walter Wyss, who had visited him in detention and represented the Swiss government during the court proceedings.

The boy had been accused of abusing his 5-year-old half-sister at their home in the Denver suburb of Evergreen.

The case provoked an outcry in Switzerland and Germany when it was revealed that Raoul had been taken from his home late at night. He spent more than six weeks in detention and on one occasion appeared in court in shackles.

Children of Raoul's age would almost never be imprisoned in Switzerland, and critics in Switzerland publicly questioned whether Raoul could really have abused his sister deliberately, or whether it was in play.

“I am very happy that Raoul can now return to his parents,” said Swiss Foreign Minister Joseph Deiss Thursday, a few hours after the case against Raoul was dismissed.

But the neighbor who reported the boy to the Colorado authorities said she was upset with the conditions of Raoul's return.

"I am heartsick that he will never get the help that he needs and that his sister will never be validated," said Laura Mehmert.

She said if Swiss authorities do not force the family into counseling, she fears Raoul's problems will escalate.

"If they don't keep them under a microscope, we'll hear about Raoul again," she said.

Colorado prosecutors said they were looking at ways to change the law which led to Raoul's release.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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