Ananova news service. 9 8 2002
Twenty charged with molesting children
A group of parents who sexually abused their own children and sent pornographic pictures of them over the Internet have been arrested in the US and Europe.
Forty-five children, including 37 in the United States who ranged in age from 2 to 14, were victims and have been removed from the care of those indicted, Customs officials said.
Eighty percent of the children were molested by one of their own parents, they said.
Most of them are in the custody of another parent or relative, or foster care.
US customs officials said two people in the UK were arrested and charged in connection with the ring, although British authorities could not confirm this.
"I've rarely seen crimes as despicable and repugnant," said Customs Commissioner Robert C. Bonner.
Ten US citizens have been charged since January, including nine named in an
indictment unsealed Friday in Fresno, California. One has already pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, Mr Bonner said. The 10th American committed suicide after his arrest.
Six residents of Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands were also indicted in Fresno and the Justice Department is seeking their extradition to the US. Four others were charged in Europe as part of the joint investigation with the Danish National Police that reached Belgium, Germany, England, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
More arrests are expected. Authorities are still trying to identify other children in some of the explicit pictures.
The indictment alleges members of the ring, referring to themselves as "the club," traded messages across the Internet requesting photographs of specific sexual poses. In one instance, a man is alleged to have swapped his own children with another pedophile to be abused.
Last updated: 20:03 Friday 9th August 2002
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