A German couple who sold their underage son to pedophiles on the Dark Web have been given prison sentences, The Guardian is reporting. Meanwhile, Germans are wondering how the abuse escaped the notice of authorities for so long.
The 48-year-old woman and her 39-year-old partner have not been identified by name and are referred to in the media only as “Berrin T” (the woman) and “Christian L” (the man). Their faces have also been obscured in photographs from the court proceedings.
The pair essentially operated a pedophile ring from their home in the city of Staufen, in the far southwestern corner of Germany, near the Swiss border. Using the so-called “Dark Web,” the pair sold the boy, now 10, to buyers who paid €10,000 (about $11,600) at a time to abuse the boy.
The Dark Web, for those not familiar, is a collection of websites and other services that are largely hidden from law enforcement and is only accessible via special software.
One man believed that the fee he paid entitled him to kill the boy, but he was stopped by Berrin.
Judge Stefan Bürgelin said that Berrin began selling the boy on the Dark Web because she feared Christian would leave her if she didn’t. However, after a while, says the judge, the woman got used to the money and continued selling the boy for abuse. The woman threatened the boy with being sent to foster care if he said anything.
Almanya’da 10 yaşından küçük öz oğlunu suistimal eden ve para karşılığında erkeklere pazarlayan anne Berrin T. 12 yıl 6 ay, erkek arkadaşı Christian L. ise 12 yıl ağır hapis cezasına çarptırıldıhttps://t.co/BsLLQtkQJf
— DW (Türkçe) (@dw_turkce) August 7, 2018
In addition to selling the boy for sex online, the couple also repeatedly raped and abused the boy themselves. Additionally, according to BBC News, they abused a 3-year-old girl, although it is not clear if the girl was also sold online.
Berrin T was sentenced to 12 years, while Christian L was also sentenced to 12 years, plus a “preventative detention order,” which means that he will be in prison for the rest of his life. The couple were convicted of forced prostitution, rape, sexual and physical abuse, humiliation, and bondage in almost 60 separate identified acts.
The couple’s trial coincides with the trials of six other men also involved in the pedophile ring. They include a Spanish man, a Swiss citizen, and three German men; they’ve all been sentenced to between eight and 10 years.
The boy is now living in foster care.
Meanwhile, some Germans believe this case highlights failures in the country’s child welfare apparatus, who somehow failed to recognized signs of sexual abuse going on for years.