Child crime: eighty people arrested during a large operation in France

Eighty people suspected of child abuse were arrested this week in France, Agence France-Presse (AFP) learned from a police source on Saturday, December 9

Child crime: eighty people arrested during a large operation in France

Eighty people suspected of child abuse were arrested this week in France, Agence France-Presse (AFP) learned from a police source on Saturday, December 9.

The arrests took place in 53 departments, including two overseas, told AFP Commissioner Quentin Bevan, head of the operational center of the new Juvenile Office (Ofmin) of the judicial police, who coordinated the operation.

Among those involved, aged between thirty and more than sixty years old, “they range from local elected officials to the unemployed, including the engineer,” detailed the commissioner. “In child crime, there is no standard profile, we find all socio-professional categories,” he added. For this vast operation, on a scale “never before seen” in France, according to the commissioner, the police targeted profiles in regular contact with children.

Suspicions of rape and sexual assault

Two school teachers, sports coaches, or a supervisor in a home for children with disabilities were arrested. One of the teachers had “stolen photos and videos of his students with sexual connotations. He had sexualized these images,” explains Mr. Bevan. The teacher is also accused of having sexually assaulted at least one of his students, he adds. Like him, a “ten” of those arrested are also suspected of rape of minors or sexual assault.

The supervisor had been convicted of rape “several decades ago”. He had legally benefited from a change of identity, which explains why he was able to work again in contact with children, adds Mr. Bevan. “This shows that online child crime is not just solitary activities on the Internet", some "have already taken action or are likely to do so" in real life, continues the police officer.

All those accused admitted the facts during their police custody, even if some tried to minimize them or to exonerate themselves. When the police and gendarmes arrived, some arrested were found downloading child criminal content . Others tried to break their computers “with a hammer.”

Among several defendants in this case, “more than 100,000” child abuse videos and photos were found during searches. The images were stored on computers, hard drives or other digital media, the commissioner explained. Some of the content was “extremely violent,” he said, citing “sexual acts committed against infants, or children sexually abused with animals.” “We are in the “filth of the filth”.”

13 men imprisoned

At the end of police custody for “detention, consultation, dissemination and sharing of child abuse images”, 51 men were presented to a judge. Among them, 13 were imprisoned. Some after having been sentenced to prison in immediate appearance, while others were placed in pre-trial detention awaiting their judgment. At this stage, 38 others have been placed under judicial supervision. Other police custody has been lifted, pending the exploitation of digital media.

The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, welcomed on X a “great crackdown against child crime”. “Investigations are still ongoing,” he added.

“These photos are not virtual, there are thousands of victims, vulnerable beings, who have been raped, and many of whom have suffered acts of torture and barbarism,” denounces Martine Brousse, co-founder and president of the association. La Voix de l'enfant, interviewed on BFM-TV. “We hope that justice and the Ministry of the Interior will do everything possible to find these children (…) and that a trial will take place so that they are recognized as victims,” she added, assuring that the association would become a civil party.

The Secretary of State for Children, Charlotte Caubel, said she was “sure that there are hundreds of people who are connected at this very moment to pedophile sites”. “Many adults who are sometimes also parents and who are around us regularly watch and consume child abuse images,” she added on BFM-TV. She called on parents to be vigilant: “Be careful, do not put images of your children online in such a massive way”, because these images can be hijacked by child criminals, through editing.