Man Who Blackmailed Teens Online Convicted of Rape

Case is the first of its kind in Sweden; victims were in the US, elsewhere
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 1, 2017 9:27 AM CST
Man Who Blackmailed Teens Online Convicted of Rape
The verdict is handed out to media at Uppsala District Court in Sweden on Thursday.   (Akvelina Smed/TT via AP)

A 41-year-old Swedish man was convicted of rape and sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday for coercing teens in Canada, Britain, and the US to perform sexual acts in front of webcams by threatening them or their families. A court in Uppsala, Sweden, found Bjorn Samstrom guilty of online sexual offenses involving 27 victims under age 15 between 2015 and early 2017, reports the AP. Samstrom threatened to post photos of the 26 girls and one boy on pornography sites or to kill their relatives unless they performed sex acts as he watched from Sweden, prosecutors said. The case marks the first time in Sweden that a person was convicted of rape for offenses that took place over the internet. Under Swedish law, rape doesn't have to include intercourse, but can be an act considered equally violating.

Samstrom also was convicted of child pornography possession because he saved recordings of his victims, according to the court ruling. The court also ordered him to pay damages to victims who have been identified and claimed compensation, totaling $131,590. Samstrom admitted coercing the teens but denied his actions constituted rape. His lawyer tells the AP he will appeal. The case came to light when Samstrom was being investigated for another alleged sex crime and police found videos at his home of girls speaking English. Swedish investigators contacted counterparts in Canada, Britain, and the US, who located 18 of the 26 girls and interviewed them. None were present at the trial, but videos recording their testimony were played in court. (More rape stories.)

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