COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A 41-year-old Swedish man was convicted of rape and sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday for coercing young teenagers in Canada, Britain and the United States 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 juvenile victims between 2015 and early 2017. 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 court said that while Samstrom never met his victims in person, he was guilty of rape, sexual coercion and other charges.
It was 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.
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Samstrom admitted coercing the teens — all under age 15 at the time — but denied his actions constituted rape.
“He has been convicted of crimes which he does not consider he is guilty of. So it is very possible that he appeals,” defense lawyer Kronje Samuelsson told Swedish news agency TT.
Samstrom also was convicted of child pornography possession because he saved recordings of his victims, according to the court’s written ruling.
The court also ordered him to pay damages to victims who have been identified and claimed compensation, totaling 1.1 million kronor ($131,590.)
Samstrom’s 20-day trial was held behind closed doors to protect the victims’ identities. Prosecutor Annika Wennerstrom had requested a 10-year prison sentence.
Samstrom lived alone near Uppsala, some 70 kilometers (43.4 miles) north of Stockholm. The court noted he also drank “large amounts of alcohol.”
The Swedish 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 United States, who located 18 of the 26 girls and interviewed them. None were present at the trial, but their videos recording their testimony were played in court.
The other nine victims never were identified.