During a sentencing hearing at a court in Vienna, two men and one woman received prison sentences for abusing two children, filming the abuse, and subsequently uploading the videos to the darknet child abuse forum “Elysium.” The victims, prosecutors revealed, were the children of two of the now-convicted child abusers.
The German Federal Criminal Police Office seized the darknet forum in 2017 following a lengthy investigation into the site and the site’s owners. The police have indicated they caught a site administrator, but recent developments have revealed that the site’s owner likely avoided incarceration. For law enforcement, though, capturing the owner mattered significantly less than catching and convicting the users of the forum and especially the users of the forum had been actively abusing children. And the BKA, thanks to recent investigative tactics involving the public, successfully arrested dozens of Elysium members. While this number may seem low, keep in mind that the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation is still arresting members of the darknet members of the darknet forum “Playpen”, a forum they seized almost half-a-decade ago.
The court accused the trio of routine child abuse that began in 2014. The father of the abused children acknowledged that he had developed a sexual interest in children at age 13. He never abused children, he said, until after he married one of the co-defendants and had children with her. He suppressed his urges until his wife gave birth to their second child—the son. His first child, the daughter, first suffered abuse at age two, he said.
He eventually split up with his wife and moved into his own house. The ex-wife, who sat beside him in the courtroom, suggested he take the kids as she believed he could take better care of them. At some point prior to the split the father admitted he discovered the darknet and several child abuse forums. He met someone on one of the forums who lived relatively close to his own home. They first planned to get together, drug the children, and then sexually abuse both children while the children “slept.” He said he scrapped the plan. Soon after, though, he started filming himself while abusing his children. Not long after he had filmed and uploaded some videos, he decided to meet up with a pedophile he had met on a darknet abuse forum.
They met and raped their children in numerous occasions. During the Elysium investigation, the police examined the videos and, after sending pictures of the girl to teachers across Germany, eventually identified the girl. The police then arrested both parents; although the father committed the assaults, the courts accused the mother for contributing to the routine sexual abuse. She denied any former knowledge that the abuse had been occurring. However, several of the videos showed a woman holding a child or being present during the abuse. And once the police arrested the third suspect, authorities learned that the woman knew about the abuse for at least eight years.
The father received a 14-year prison sentence, the mother received seven years, and the accomplice met on the darknet received 12 years. Both men received serious sexual assault convictions, portraying sexual abuse of children, and rape. The woman for aiding the men.