In Traunstein, Germany, a judge at the Traunstein District Court sentenced a 28-year-old man for child abuse and spreading pictures and videos of the abuse on the darknet. Judge Klaus Weidmann found the defendant guilty of 29 counts of the sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography, and production of child pornography. The judge ordered a prison sentence of seven years and nine months. In addition, the defendant must pay the victim, his stepdaughter, 45,000 euros. The stepdaughter will also receive payment for any further damages that could be attributed to the sexual abuse.
German police caught the man in January 2017 after he had uploaded pictures on the darknet that contained identifying information. The BKA had gathered ample evidence on the man. One of the most damning indicators of the (former) stepfather’s guilt came from the pictures he had uploaded on the darknet; he had uploaded pictures that had his own face in them. In January, they had asked the public for help in ensuring the suspect’s capture. The search then ended soon after it had started.
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The public never knew why the search had ended, given that the police never revealed that they had captured the man in the photographs. The outcome of the search mattered very little, in light of later developments. The prosecution had obtained a confession from the defendant. Not a full confession, the court believed, but more than enough for the guilty conviction. Investigators suspected that 20 or more cases of child abuse by the 28-year-old existed. The prosecution wanted to avoid pursuing cases where the victim would have to appear in court or provide a statement to the police.
In addition to a full confession of his abusive relationship with his ex-wife’s ten-year-old daughter, the man kept evidence of the abuse at his home. When investigators searched the house in January 2017, they found evidence that he had uploaded pictures and videos to his friends on Skype and to forums on the darknet. The abusive relationship began when the girl was only seven-years-old, according to photographic evidence found on the darknet and on electronic storage devices.
He argued that he and his step-daughter had a “good” relationship. He said that they had wanted to get married. The girl’s mother—the former wife of the defendant—had divorced the defendant in 2016. According to the court, she had grown suspicious. The 28-year-old told the court that the girl had been “like a girlfriend” to him and that everyone knew of their good relationship. His ex-wife, he said, had grown jealous and told him to “get a room.” Police questioned her, but she seemingly knew nothing of the child abuse. The defendant had also uploaded pictures and videos of his ex-wife to darknet forums, investigators found.
In a statement to the police, the ten-year-old girl said “I’m so afraid, I never want to go to him again.” The prosecution wanted to keep him away from the victim for a long time. His crimes were “above average,” they said. To keep the girl safe, the prosecution pushed for a prison sentence of almost 18 years. The defense pushed the narrative that the defendant had changed and had prepared for therapy, as long as he could get the ordeal behind him. At most, the lawyer for the defense said, a prison sentence of five years would be appropriate.
Judge Weidmann opted for seven years and nine months, along with the monetary stipulation. “In the worst case, the defendant could meet the child again in a few years,” the judge said.