If convicted, the 43-year-old faces not only up to three years in prison, but also placement in a forensic therapy center.
Due to the lively media interest, the trial will take place in the main jury courtroom. “The rush is great, also from the interested public,” announced court spokeswoman Christina Salzborn. The first rows of the hall are reserved for the media; in view of the limited space available, there is no guarantee for non-media professionals that they will be allowed into the hall at all.
Teichtmeister, who was cast in leading roles at the Burgtheater until his release in January 2023, is said to have procured prohibited abuse material from February 2008 to summer 2021 and saved it on two smartphones, two laptops, a desktop and three external hard drives, among other things. Originally, the public prosecutor’s office only accused him of possessing prohibited depictions of abuse. However, the responsible judge had a data forensic expert carry out an additional evaluation of the seized data – after all, around 23 terabytes – which changed the view of things: Teichtmeister had changed 34,696 files by editing them, creating collages, making slide shows and video sequences, which was legally is to be qualified as production and is subject to a higher penalty, which justifies the jurisdiction of a jury panel.
23 terabytes of data secured
A total of 76,000 files are the subject of the proceedings, of which around 47,000 relate to representations of underage minors, the rest to consent minors, i.e. young people between the ages of 14 and 18. In the event of a guilty verdict, the Vienna public prosecutor’s office has applied for the actor to be placed in a so-called prison. The decisive factor for this is a psychiatric report, which – based on the data forensic findings – certifies that the actor has a serious and lasting mental disorder. The Senate is responsible for deciding whether and to what extent, in the event of a guilty verdict, the application for placement by the public prosecutor’s office is granted – conditional forbearance of the measure could also be considered.
The trial is scheduled to last around three hours, and it is possible to partially exclude the public while the evidence and the psychiatric report are discussed. The accused should continue to plead guilty – Teichtmeister had not denied the allegations even after they became known. According to reports, he will make use of his right to remain silent to a large extent, which the accused are entitled to in court.
First appointment canceled due to illness
Hearings against Teichtmeister should have been held seven months ago, but the appointment scheduled for February 8 had to be canceled at short notice due to the defendant’s illness. Teichtmeister has been able to negotiate again since early summer. Further delays were caused by indispensable surveys commissioned by the responsible judge, which were necessary to clarify responsibility and legal classification.
The public prosecutor had been investigating Teichtmeister since 2021, and at the end of 2022 the application for punishment was submitted to the regional court. The government took the Teichtmeister case as an opportunity to tighten the penalties for acquiring, possessing and passing on or trading in depictions of abuse by children and young people. Since retroactivity of criminal laws is forbidden, the actor will no longer be affected if he is convicted.
Court convictions under Section 207a of the Criminal Code – the procurement, production and distribution of depictions of child abuse – have increased in recent years, according to statistics from the Ministry of Justice. While there were 304 judgments in 2018, there were 403 in the previous year. The peak value was 480 – possibly not coincidentally in the middle of the corona pandemic – in 2021.