1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Verdict in Staufen child sex abuse case

August 6, 2018

A 33-year-old man from Spain has been found guilty of rape, sexual abuse, forced prostitution and producing child pornography. His victim was a young German boy whose mother sold him for sex on the darknet.

The silhouette of an adult reaching their hands out to a child
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/P.Pleul

A court in southwestern Germany on Monday sentenced a Spanish national to 10 years in prison for rape, sexual abuse, forced prostitution and producing child pornography.

The 33-year-old defendant had previously admitted paying to rape a 9-year-old boy for money on multiple occasions in the town of Staufen, near Freiburg and filming his crimes against the child. He is one of eight people implicated in the case, which police described as one of the worst child sex abuse cases they've ever investigated.

Read more: Child sex abuse trial begins in one of Germany's worst cases on record

  • Investigators say the boy's 48-year-old mother and her 39-year-old partner offered the boy for sex online in exchange for money over a two-year period. 
  • The victim was repeatedly raped and sexually abused by a number of local and foreign men.
  • Police uncovered the pedophile ring in September 2017 after an anonymous tip-off.
  • Eight suspects were arrested in the case, including the boy's mother and her partner, who has a previous child abuse conviction.
  • Three German men and one Swiss national have so far been sentenced to prison terms ranging from eight to 10 years.
The 48-year-old mother of the victim is led away by police
The boy's mother, 48-year-old Berrin T., and her partner are considered the main perpetrators in the caseImage: picture-alliance/dpa/P. Seeger

Read more: Investigators bust major darknet child porn platform

The public prosecutor's office had demanded a 12-year prison sentence for the Spanish national, who lives near Barcelona.

Shocking case: The Staufen child sex abuse case and the horrific details that have emerged in the trials have shocked the German public. Questions have also been asked about the authorities' failure to protect the boy. A local youth welfare office took custody of the child in March 2017, when it became known he was living in the same house as his mother's partner, Christian L. — a convicted child-sex offender who is subject to a child contact ban. The mother, Berrin T., took the case to court and won the right to have her boy sent back home.

Read more:Darknet, the shady internet

What is the so-called darknet? The darknet refers to a hidden part of the internet that is only accessible by specialized software and cannot be found by mainstream search engines like Google and Yahoo. This invisible space is often associated with shady business deals, but it's often also used for other purposes. Highly sensitive documents were funneled to WikiLeaks through the darknet, and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is said to have used it to contact reporters.

Read more:Sexual abuse experienced by one-in-seven young Germans

What happens next? The Freiburg court is expected to deliver its verdict against Berrin T. and Christian L. on Tuesday. Both have confessed to allowing men they found online to rape the victim. They have also admitted to carrying out abuse themselves. The charge sheet against the pair lists offenses including forced prostitution, verbal intimidation and abuse, extreme humiliation, physical bondage and rape. Prosecutors are seeking a 14-and-a-half-year prison term for the mother and 13-and-a-half-years for her partner.

Editor's note: Deutsche Welle follows the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and obliges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases.

nm/rc (dpa, AFP)

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.