A man and his son have been arrested on suspicion of raping their daughters in the northern Italian city of Turin.
The father reportedly kept his daughter captive in a dark room for 25 years, sexually abusing her. The son was allegedly encouraged to imitate his father.
The first victim, who was given the pseudonym “Laura”, is now 34 and is having psychological treatment, said Italian media.
Laura, whose abuse is believed to have started when she was nine, alerted the police. They now believe that the 63-year-old man’s son also raped his own four daughters.
Laura was locked up in a room without electricity, forced to leave school at the age of 13 and never allowed to leave the house without her father’s supervision.
Italian media report that the case came to light after Laura accused her brother of rape. They say that she fled her father’s house to sought refuge in her brother’s house, where she was allegedly locked up and raped by her brother for two weeks.
Laura says her brother also raped his own four young daughters.
‘Droit de seigneur’
“It seems that in this family there was a sort of ‘droit de seigneur’ of the father over the daughter”, said prosecutor Pietro Fornon, alluding to the medieval feudal right which gave the lord the right to sleep the first night with the bride of any of his vassals.
Father and son, both street vendors who collect scrap metal for a living, have been arrested and charged with rape, sexual abuse and carrying out obscene acts in public.
Both of them denied any wrongdoing.
After filing a complaint for sexual abuse 16 years ago, Laura was already known to police.
But no action was ever taken because the woman was allegedly forced by her father to pin the blame on an uncle who also denied any wrongdoing.
According to the police the case is unusual in that most of the other members of the large family of the accused, who has eight sons and two daughters, defend their father and have told police that they worship the ground where he treads.
The city authorities have taken in charge the younger children. They are undergoing therapy.
Italian media say the case echoes that of Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man jailed for life on 19 March for having kept his daughter as a sex slave in a cellar for 24 years and fathered her seven children, murdering one of them by neglect.