German newspaper Bild has emphatically apologized for reporting an article it ran claiming women had been sexually assaulted in Frankfurt on New Year’s Eve by a “rioting sex mob” of Arab refugees. According to Bild, the accusations are baseless, and neither police reports from that night nor an investigation following the report turned up any evidence to support the claims made by alleged “victims.”
“The editorial staff of Bild emphatically apologizes for this untrue report and the allegations that it made against those concerned. This reporting in no way reflects the journalistic standards of Bild,” the paper said.
In the February 6th article, Jan Mai, owner of a cafe in Frankfurt, was quoted as saying she witnessed 50 “Arab-looking men” assault women the night of December 31st. A 27-year old waitress, identified as Irina A., claimed to have been one of the women attacked, saying “they grabbed me under my skirt, between the legs and on my breast – Their hands were everywhere.” According to Nadja Niesen, a spokeswoman for prosecutors in Frankfurt, officials opened an investigation into the women’s claims, and authorities searched the waitress’ apartment.
When the Bild story started to spread on social media, other media outlets attempted to corroborate the story but were told by several restaurant owners and regular customers who insisted they had seen no such “sex mob.”
According to police:
“Masses of refugees were not responsible for any sexual assaults in the Fressgass over New Year. The accusations are completely baseless. Interviews with alleged witnesses, guests and employees led to major doubts with the version of events that had been presented … One of the alleged victims was not even in Frankfurt at the time the allegations are said to have taken place.”
Bild removed the article more than a week later, saying the attacks “did not take place.” Bild’s editor for digital news, Julian Reeichelt, tweeted “We apologise for our own work. I’ll shortly announce what Bild will do about it.”