Man Charged in Child Sex Abuse Case Involving 300 Boys in Norway
Norwegian authorities describe arrest as 'biggest sexual offense case in Norway's history'
Authorities in Norway have arrested and charged a man in his twenties with child sex offenses involving the sexual abuse of 300 boys, prosecutors confirmed on Tuesday.
The unnamed 26-year-old man, reportedly a football referee, is facing a series of serious sexual assault charges in the biggest such case in Norwegian history.
The majority of the 300 victims of abuse are teenage boys, mostly aged 13 to 16 - with some of the known victims as young and nine - who were targetted from 2011.
"The case is a serious one, and it is the biggest case of sexual abuse in Norway to date," state prosecutor Guro Hansson Bull revealed in a statement.
The charges include rape, according to Norwegian media reports.
The man allegedly targeted boys on the Internet, where he adopted female personas in chat forums and convinced the victims to engage in sexual acts, which he filmed, with promises of erotic photos in return.
According to the prosecutor's office, about 300 boys mostly aged 13 to 16 were targeted since 2011, in Norway and other Nordic countries.
The man, identified in the media as a football referee, "admits the facts," his lawyer Gunhild Laerum told broadcaster NRK but has yet to respond to each individual charge.
According to the Guardian, the case follows an exhaustive two-year investigation by Oslo police against an unidentified man who is alleged to have targeted his victims on internet chat services and via the Snapchat messaging app.
The suspect pretended to be a teenage girl and persuaded the boys to perform sex acts in exchange for the promise of erotic photos, recording the video chats and threatening to publish them online unless the boys sent him further films, according to the 81-page indictment.
Verdens Gang newspaper reported that police found 16,463 different films on the suspect’s computer, of boys in Norway but also in Sweden and Denmark.
The indictment mostly concerns online abuse, but the suspect met some of his victims and has also been charged with rape, Norwegian media said.
The alleged assaults occurred between 2011 and 2016, when the man was arrested and detained after chatting, meeting and subsequently sexually abusing a youth who had previously worked with him as an assistant, Verdens Gang reported.
The suspect’s lawyer, Gunhild Laerum, told the public broadcaster NRK that his client, who is expected to face trial early next year, was cooperating with police and had “admitted the facts.”
He was profoundly sorry for his actions but had yet to respond to each individual charge, Laerum said.
The state prosecutor, Guro Hansson Bull, told NRK the case was “the biggest of its kind in Norway to date.”
Only two of the alleged victims had come forward, he said.
“Only one boy managed to tell his parents, and the mother of another found out.
"That says a lot about how hard it is for young people to talk about abuse of this kind.”
Norway’s attorney general, Christian Lundin, said the case was “incomparable in Norwegian legal history."
Virtually all the alleged victims were “struggling” because “they have a huge sense of guilt,” he said.
The trial will be held in 2019.