In the case of the well-known child psychiatrist Winterhoff, the Bonn public prosecutor has filed a lawsuit. Ex-patients and experts accuse him of having made dubious diagnoses and having used a sedative drug too often.
The public prosecutor’s office in Bonn has charged pediatrician Michael Winterhoff with dangerous bodily harm in 36 cases. This was confirmed by the Bonn Regional Court at the request of WDR and “Süddeutsche Zeitung”.
The indictment had been sent to Winterhoff’s defense, which could now comment. The deadline for this is usually not set at less than two weeks, but an extension of the deadline can be requested in extensive proceedings.
After the deadline, the competent chamber will decide whether to start the main hearing. WDR and SZ had reported for the first time in August 2021 on the Bonn child psychiatrist’s dubious treatment methods. He had attested to “early childhood narcissism” and “parent-child symbiosis” for many of his young patients, diagnoses that cannot be found in any textbook and are highly controversial in specialist circles.
Former patients reported that Winterhoff then prescribed them psychotropic drugs, in some cases for many years, especially pipamperone. This is a sedative that experts only recommend taking in emergencies, for a limited period of time. It can cause serious side effects. Some of the earlier patients stated that they are still suffering from the after-effects of Winterhoff’s treatment.
investigations in numerous cases
According to the public prosecutor’s office in Bonn, a large number of cases were determined “in the high three-digit range”. In May 2022, 100 detectives searched 15 youth welfare facilities in North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Lower Saxony where Winterhoff worked, as well as the rooms of his former practice in Bonn. Patient files and extensive evidence were confiscated, which a specially founded group of investigators evaluated together with the Bonn public prosecutor’s office.
The child psychiatrist, who has not practiced in his Bonn practice since the end of 2021, denies the allegations and assumes that his treatment was legally compliant. He only prescribed Pipamperon when children were “controlled by aggression, mood instability and confusion”. It was regularly checked whether the drug treatment was still necessary.