Austrian woman says father held her in cellar for 24 years

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By VERONIKA OLEKSYN

Associated Press Writer

VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- Police have found a woman missing since 1984, who told authorities that her father had kept her in a cellar for almost 24 years and that she had given birth to seven children after being repeatedly raped by him.

The 73-year-old father was taken into custody, Franz Polzer, head of the Lower Austrian Bureau of Criminal Affairs, told reporters Sunday.

Authorities found the woman Saturday evening in the town of Amstetten following a tip, Lower Austria police said in a statement.

The 42-year-old woman told police that her father began sexually abusing her when she was 11 and locked her in a room in the cellar on Aug. 28, 1984.

During the 24 years that followed, she said she was continually abused and gave birth to seven children, one of whom died several days later.

Police said in the statement the woman appeared "greatly disturbed" psychologically during questioning. She agreed to talk only after authorities assured her that she would no longer have to have contact with her father and that her children would be taken care of.

DNA tests are expected to determine whether the man is the father of the six surviving children, according to police.

The Austria Press Agency said the three boys and three girls range in age from 5 and 20. One of the children, a 19-year-old woman, was being hospitalized in very serious condition, according to Austrian broadcaster ORF.

Sunday's developments recalled another case that shocked Austrians in the summer of 2006, when a young woman escaped after being largely confined to a tiny underground dungeon in a quiet Vienna suburb for more than eight years.

Natascha Kampusch was 10 years old when she was kidnapped in Vienna on her way to school in March 1998. Her abductor, Wolfgang Priklopil, threw himself in front of a train just hours after her dramatic escape.