Couple jailed for selling son for sex
German cops set to make further arrests over online paedophile ring
A German court handed down lengthy jail sentences on Tuesday to a couple for repeatedly sexually abusing their young son and selling him to paedophiles online, in a shocking case that raised pointed questions about the competence of child protection services.
Following a criminal probe that even seasoned investigators said pushed them to the emotional limit, the regional court in Freiburg sentenced the boy’s mother to 12½ years in prison.
Her partner, the boy’s stepfather whom he called “papa”, received a 12-year sentence followed by preventive detention.
The stepfather, 39, was allowed to live in their home despite a previous conviction for child abuse and a court order to stay away from minors.
The judges found that the unemployed couple had sexually assaulted the boy, now 10, numerous times and pimped him on the so-called darknet between May 2015 and August 2017.
They were convicted of rape, aggravated sexual assault of children, forced prostitution and distribution of child pornography, judge Stefan Buergelin said.
The couple was also ordered to pay a total of €42,500 (R654,586) in damages to the boy and another victim, a girl who was temporarily in their care.
The child’s 48-year-old mother said through her lawyer that she would not appeal, so as to spare her son an even longer legal ordeal.
Their sentences fell short of what prosecutors had demanded – 14 years and six months for the mother and 13 years and six months for her partner.
Even experienced police officers dealing with child abuse cases said the case was like nothing they had ever seen.
Local judicial and child services officials came in for massive criticism for having interviewed the mother after concerns about the boy’s welfare arose months before the couple’s arrest, but failing to get his own account.
Key information about the case was not shared among authorities, and warnings from the boy’s school about his wellbeing were dismissed by youth services as “vague”.
On Monday, the same court sentenced a Spanish paedophile, Javier Gonzalez Diaz, to 10 years’ prison for repeatedly sexually abusing the young boy after paying the parents.
The 33-year-old was also ordered to pay €18,000 (R277,536) to the young victim.
The case came to light following an anonymous tip-off in September, and led to the arrest of eight people who have been charged with belonging to an online paedophile ring.
Police said they have a further 20 suspected perpetrators in their sights.
The stepfather admitted on the witness stand to the assaults on the boy. He also made serious accusations against the child’s mother, who confessed to the crimes but remained largely silent about any possible motive during the trial.
Buergelin said the mother went along with the abuse at first so she would not lose the man as a partner and later for financial motives.
They charged several thousand euros for each instance of abuse, filmed the acts and posted them on the darknet.
The boy is in foster care and did not have to testify during the trial. His lawyer said on Tuesday that he was doing well “under the circumstances”.