Posing online as a girl named “Sandra”, a Norwegian man duped hundreds of minor boys into sex acts with promises of sweets, nude pictures, or iPhones, according to the charge sheet in the country’s biggest-ever sex abuse case.
For years, the now 26-year-old suspect manipulated the boys into committing sex acts online and then threatened to expose them if they did not carry on.
Some of the boys he met in person and sexually assaulted, prosecutors say.
“It is the biggest case of sexual abuse in Norway to date,” the prosecution has stated, with the number of victims so vast — 460 in total — that a third had to be left off the charge sheet to keep the case manageable.
The 80-page indictment, seen by AFP Thursday, is a lengthy list of alleged offences committed mostly via the internet.
It describes the suspect as a 26-year-old man named only as “Henrik”. He has been described in the media as a football referee.
Under the fake name of “Sandra”, sometimes “Henriette”, the man passed himself off as a young girl to chat up boys on internet forums and mobile apps.
“She” would promise them racy photos, sex, money, or electronic devices — even sweets — to act for the camera — some of these videos were later used to extort more sexually explicit material from the boys.
Most of the alleged crimes were committed between 2014 and 2016, according to the charge sheet, but some date back to 2011.
The youngest victims were little older than 10.
The man “admits his guilt” his lawyer Gunhild Laerum told AFP. “But we have to look into the legal basis for the more serious accusations, those of rape.”
Arrested and freed
“Henrik” was arrested in 2016, but soon released, allowing him to continue preying on boys until he was taken into custody for a second time.
“It is clearly unfortunate and extremely regrettable, but we had no idea of the extent of the case at that stage of the investigation,” police official Sindre Stave, told the Verdens Gang newspaper.
“He was in a cycle of dependence, he could not stop,” Laerum said.
“He finds it abominable that so many people are suffering because of him.”
The man is in pre-trial detention, and was formally charged this week.
The Norwegian penal code allows for the number of victims listed on an indictment to be limited. Prosecutors left 160 alleged victims off the charge sheet as including them “would make the case file too large for the court” to handle, state prosecutor Guro Hansson Bull told AFP.
The excluded charges would be the subject of a type of tacit guilty plea — if the man had contested the accusations he could have insisted they be included in the indictment.
The 160 cases “will not be brought up in court, but… may be considered when it comes to sentencing,” said Hansson Bull.
The trial is set to open on January 22 and last nine months.
According to the prosecution, the most serious crimes are punishable by 15 years in prison, or 20 years if they were repeat offences.
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