German police have arrested a man for sexually abusing a 4-year-old girl and distributing video and photos of the act online. Citizens played a key role in the arrest by identifying the victim and the perpetrator.
German authorities arrested the 24-year-old man at his home in Lower Saxony Monday evening, just hours after police published a photograph of a young girl they say the man had sexually abused.
The Frankfurt District Attorney's Office announced that numerous tips provided by citizens had led to the quick apprehension of the man.
Read more: The Darknet, the shady internet
The publication of the picture was highly unusual but police deemed it necessary to elicit public assistance in identifying both the victim and the perpetrator, adding that prior attempts to identify the man had led nowhere as he had taken "great care" to hide his involvement.
Child pornography on the darknet
The man, who was arrested just hours after the photo was published, is said to have severely abused the 4-year-old girl repeatedly between October 2016 and July 2017. He filmed and photographed the crimes and then uploaded the images onto a child pornography platform on the so-called darknet for others to access. Police seized further evidence while searching the man's home in the town of Wesermarsch.
The man was acquainted with the child and authorities say "the perpetrator was not unknown to the family." The child is currently with her parents and is said to be doing well despite the abuse she suffered. Police voiced thanks for the public's support in facilitating the man's arrest, and requested that people delete the girl's picture from their computers and smartphones.
The darknet is a restricted online computer network where people can upload and access information and purchase contraband. Though the darknet is used by whistleblowers and dissidents, it is also infamous as a space rife with child pornography, and where drugs and weapons are readily available.
js/rt (AP, AFP)