Western Uusimaa Police Department reported today that a 30-year-old man who lived in Espoo is in custody, suspected of aggravated sexual abuse of 52 children. The victims are girls between 9 and 15 years old from all over Finland.
The police have completed the pre-trial investigation of the case, which described as "an exceptionally large crime".
The preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect approached his victims in social media. He used to start chat conversations with them via Instagram or Snapchat, but those conversations quickly turned sexual. Then, he asked the girls to send him videos and photos.
"The abuse took place in 2018 and 2019. The victims come from all over Finland and are girls between the ages of 9 and 15", explained Crime Commissioner Max Bock, who led the investigation.
According to the police, the suspect did not meet his victims face to face. And there is no evidence that he forwarded the materials to other people.
One victim contacted police
Western Uusimaa Police Department began investigating the suspect's actions after one of the victims contacted them in early 2019.
"All other cases came to light through our extensive investigation work. As can be seen from the high number of suspected crimes and victims, there has been a great load of work on the case. I welcome the fact that the actual nature of the case investigated and the matter is now ready for prosecution", says max Bock.
Finnish Police did not release any personal data about the suspect, but Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (HS) published he is a man from Turkey who did not live in Finland for a long time. HS also found out that, according to the suspect's Facebook page, he has at least worked in Finland in the Tourism industry.
Shame felt by the children
The fact that most children failed to tell an adult what the suspect was doing worries investigators the most. Police believes that the general reason was the feeling of shame felt by the victims.
"I hope that parents talk to their children about how social media services should work, and especially what to do if an adult approaches a child with strange messages. Children should be encouraged to report any incidents immediately to a trusted adult who can help with the matter and contact the police if necessary", Crime Commissioner Bock encourages.
The suspect has been in custody since early March. He is suspected of 12 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, 39 counts of sexual abuse of a child and two attempts of sexual abuse of a child. Next, the case goes to prosecution.