At the Oldenburg district court, the trial against a 24-year-old alleged child abuser from Brake has begun. In order to protect the privacy of the victim—a four-year-old girl—the court proceedings will be kept private until the court reaches a verdict. However, a court spokesperson shed some light on the case that caused a nationwide stir after the Federal Criminal Police Office published a photograph of the victim and asked the pics if they could identity the child.
In 2017, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) exhausted all resources in an attempt to identify a child pictured in child abuse videos on darknet forums. The Central Office for Cybercrime (ZIT) explained the way authorities usually identified a victim or suspect in child abuse pictures and videos on the internet. However, in this case, they had stuck out. An undisclosed law enforcement agency outside Germany examined the pictures and/or videos and concluded that the victim likely lived in Germany.
Without any alternatives, the BKA made an unprecedented move. The abuse had been occurring right under their noses and they had no way to end it. So the BKA published a picture of the girl on the internet and asked the public for assistance in identifying the child. Although that may have shared it only on Facebook initially, the photo soon spread and reached teachers and parents throughout Germany.
“This is the last resort to identify the offender,” state prosecutor Georg Ungefuk of ZIT said after they had released the picture. “We only resort to this when all other options have not reached their goal. In addition, urgency is required. We assume that the child continues to be exposed to the perpetrator’s access,” he said.
Not hours after the BKA published the picture, a woman came forward with information. She told authorities that the child in the picture was her four-year-old daughter. Police arrested the woman’s 24-year-old partner hours later. He had no biological relation to the daughter but acted as her stepdaughter. The man, however, did have a son with the victim’s mother.
The defendant admitted that he had been abusing the child. He told investigators that he had developed a relationship with the girl and had abused her on countless occasions between October 2016 and July 2017. He told the investigators that he did not want to upload the videos to the darknet by himself. Instead, he said, he passed them along to a friend who uploaded the videos to darknet child abuse forums and communities. The authorities may have arrested the accomplices least year, but officials have not confirmed the information released by several news outlets.
The court must decide if the man will serve up to 15 years in prison for several charges of serious sexual abuse.