Teenagers ‘sexually abused’ at rehab center in eastern Turkey, 7 workers suspended

Teenagers ‘sexually abused’ at rehab center in eastern Turkey, 7 workers suspended

Fevzi Kızılkoyun ISTANBUL
Teenagers ‘sexually abused’ at rehab center in eastern Turkey, 7 workers suspended A gendarmerie investigation has learned four teenage girls were sexually abused at a rehabilitation center in eastern Turkey for six years, daily Hürriyet has learned.

The probe was launched after the four girls, identified as S.E., B.E., E.K. and E.A., escaped from the Care, Social Support and Rehabilitation Center in the Harput district of Elazığ province. After they were found by the gendarmerie, the girls filed a complaint, claiming they had been victims of sexual abuse and violence at the rehabilitation center between 2007 and 2013.

The gendarmerie notified the Prosecutor’s Office in Elazığ about its findings, concluding a number of employees at the rehabilitation center sexually abused the girls several times. Two of the girls had attempted suicide, while another one was hospitalized at a mental institution, the notification said.

The rehabilitation center’s deputy director, identified as Z.K., confirmed the claim, telling the prosecutor he personally saw two employees engaging in sexual intercourse in a bathroom while others waited outside as watchmen. “I reported it to the director, but he claimed that I just made it up to get rid of the employees whom he was close with,” the deputy director said.

Only nine years old

One of the complainants said she had first been sexually abused when she was nine years old, adding it was coupled with beatings and threats. The other complainants said they experienced similar incidents in rehabilitation centers in other provinces, such as Diyarbakır and Muş, noting officials whom they asked for help also abused them.

“The person named S. abused me. He brought me cigarettes and let me use his phone. I wish it had never happened,” one complainant wrote in her diary, according to the documents related to the investigation.

The suspects have refuted all allegations against them. Two of the implicated employees said they had a “love affair” with the girls. The center’s director, on the other hand, claimed in his testimony that he had initiated an administrative investigation, but closed it for lack of evidence.

When asked by a Hürriyet correspondent about the recent findings in the criminal probe, the director said that he cannot speak in detail as the investigation is ongoing.

“This is an old issue. The girls, as well as the employees - except one of them - are not at the center anymore,” he said.

Hours after the publication of the story in daily Hürriyet, the Family and Social Policies Ministry, which administers rehabilitation centers, suspended the director and the six implicated employees of the center in Harput. Three investigators will be looking into the claims, the ministry said in a statament March 12.