Austrian actor Florian Teichtmeister, known for his role in the award-winning film “Corsage,” has pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in a Vienna court. Teichtmeister, who portrayed Emperor Franz-Joseph in the movie, was accused of procuring and possessing approximately 76,000 media files depicting minors. More than half of these files involved minors aged between seven and 14, while the rest depicted young people between 14 and 18. The 43-year-old actor could face up to three years in prison.
The court proceedings took place under tight security measures to prevent any incidents with demonstrators. Teichtmeister had been under investigation by prosecutors since 2021. “Corsage” was a successful film, with actress Vicky Krieps receiving the best performance prize at the Cannes film festival for her portrayal of the tragic empress Sisi. The movie was also being considered for an Academy Award nomination before reports emerged in mid-January about Teichtmeister’s child pornography charges.
Following the charges, Austria’s national theatre, the Burgtheater, announced that it had terminated Teichtmeister’s employment. The Austrian public broadcaster ORF, which co-produced “Corsage,” stated that it would not produce or broadcast any films involving Teichtmeister until the outcome of the case. The charges have had wider implications in Austrian politics, leading to an inquiry by State Secretary for Arts and Culture Andrea Mayer. There have been allegations that individuals within the industry were aware of Teichtmeister’s criminal past but remained silent.
The case has prompted the Austrian government to strengthen penalties for child pornography. Politicians criticized the existing punishments as “ridiculously low.” Under the proposed new laws, possessing pornographic depictions of minors could result in prison sentences of up to three years, an increase from the current maximum of two years. Teichtmeister’s defense hopes that his guilty plea, along with his lack of a criminal record, cooperation with authorities, and years of psychological treatment, will lead to a reduced sentence.
It is important to note that the production of a significant number of sexually explicit depictions of minors, particularly for distribution, may result in prison sentences of up to 10 years under the expected changes to the law later this year. However, Teichtmeister will not be affected by these changes.