At the end of May, the famous German children and fashion photographer Achim Lippoth is on trial. He is accused of child sexual abuse. Research by Die Zeit points to blatant mistakes in the investigative work of the police and that there may be more victims.
From May 31, the famous children and fashion photographer Achim Lippoth has to defend himself against allegations of sexual abuse of children before the Cologne Regional Court. The Cologne public prosecutor’s office lists 17 acts in their indictment. She accuses Lippoth of twelve counts of serious sexual abuse and four counts of sexual abuse, one of which involves possession of child pornography. A total of six children are said to be affected. All are said to have worked for him as child models in the past. According to the indictment, the crimes date back to 1999 and are said to have been committed by June 2021. Achim Lippoth has been in custody for more than nine months.
At the request of ZEITmagazin, Achim Lippoth does not want to comment on the allegations, according to a letter from his lawyer. In a “warning letter” from his media lawyer, which he sent to ZEITmagazin on July 15, 2021 and which deals with the investigation into the suspected sexual abuse of minors, which was not yet completed at the time, it says: “The allegation is denied by our client. “
Achim Lippoth, 54, is probably the best-known and most renowned children’s photographer today. He photographed for the New York Times, Vogue, Spiegel, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, ZEIT and ZEITmagazin, among others. As a fashion and advertising photographer, he worked for internationally successful companies, including Dolce
He also photographed a campaign against sexual abuse for the non-governmental organization Innocence in Danger. The slogan at the time: “Sexually abused children are betrayed by someone they trust.”
According to the indictment, which ZEITmagazin was able to see, the internationally active child photographer initially repeatedly photographed the victims, who were usually between seven and 13 years old, and over time “played the role of an adult friend or partly also a father role”. Lippoth is said to have become friends with his parents. “In the course of these friendly contacts or family-like associations” he took advantage of the situation.
According to research by ZEITmagazin, Lippoth had been with the mothers of his two most recent victims for many years. Other parents sometimes let their children travel alone with Lippoth for weeks. On these trips, the victims often slept in the same hotel room as Lippoth. In addition to his penthouse apartment in Cologne, some of the crime scenes are said to have been abroad.
Research by ZEITmagazin also shows that there could be even more alleged victims.
After the editors received tips about possible assaults by Lippoth, two authors researched the case for months and spoke exclusively with dozens of people close to Lippoth, with colleagues, employees, his agent, his father, authorities, parents and alleged victims. Many of them were never questioned by the investigating authorities. Two alleged victims do not appear in the indictment.
In addition, the editors encountered blatant mistakes in the investigative work of the police. Over the past 25 years, there have already been three charges against Achim Lippoth. The police only began extensive investigations when the fourth report was filed in June 2021.
You can read the whole story from May 24th on ZEIT Online and from May 25th in ZEITmagazin.