In July, the Federal Criminal Police Office raided an apartment and arrested a 39-year-old male. At the same time, a massive darknet child abuse forum called Elysium suddenly went dark. The apartment belonged to the owner of the forum and the BKA had seized his servers. Six months later, one of the 87,000 Elysium members appeared at the Dresden District Court.
The Frankfurt Attorney General called Elysium “Europe’s largest child pornography platform.” He was not correct; at least two sites still dwarf Elysium, including one European forum. But the 87,000-member forum had gained traction. The site had chatrooms in German, English, French, Spanish and Italian. International authorities helped with the investigation. Austria, Italy, New Zealand and Australia aided in the arrest of Elysium members and identification of the forum’s owner. The owner, a man from Hesse, is facing an assortment of charges.
Authorities also arrested a 61-year-old from Bavaria and two other Germans in connection with launching the site, but the details and cases have been kept private. “The [darknet child pornography scene] is very well connected,” Georg Ungefuk, spokesman for the Frankfurt Attorney General said. “Many forums are closed forums […so] new sites like Elysium are spreading very fast.” Elysium grew to 87,000 users in less than six months. Ungefuk is unaware of how many international arrests have occurred as a result of the investigation. But for the most part, the arrests that came as a result of the Elysium investigation have involved people that committed “severe” sexual abuse and filmed themselves in the act, for instance. One member shared his daughters with an Elysium member.
41-year-old Dr. Clemens M., an engineer from Dresden, found himself in handcuffs only days after the BKA took Elysium down. He was one of 14 arrested suspects arrested in Germany (initial reports said 17 arrests). Dr. M faces charges for the severe sexual abuse of two girls in his home. His victims were the daughters of a family friend. He sexually assaulted and raped the girls between 2015 and 2017 when the girls were between three and five years old and between five and seven years old.
Prosecutor Nicole Klinger read the sexual abuse allegations described in the indictment. Even as gruesome as some of the facts were, Clemens M. did not deny committing his actions.
According to statements given at Dresden District Court, the girls did not tell anyone of the abuse. The BKA, assisted by the Central Office for Combating Internet Crime (ZIT) and other law enforcement groups, identified the man during the Elysium takedown. When the police raided his apartment in July, they discovered pictures and videos depicting various scenes of child abuse. Officers also found photographs of the two girls he had been abusing. The pictures matched videos of the girls that he had uploaded to the child abuse forum Elysium.
The court will reconvene in January 2018.