Five years in jail for “rape at a distance” for online abuser
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    Five years in jail for “rape at a distance” for online abuser

    A 25-year-old man has been sentenced by a court in Brussels to five years suspended for rape carried out at a distance. The man was found guilty of sexually assaulting teenage girls over the internet during a period of five years, including indecency and actual rape.

    During a period from 2011 to 2016, the man created a number of false Facebook profiles, which he then used to entice young girls, some as young as 13, to carry out indecent acts before their webcam. He was also active on the messaging apps WhatsApp and Viber.

    In the case of one 15-year-old, the court found there had been non-consensual penetration despite the lack of physical contact.

    “Although there was no bodily contact, it was a rape,” stated the lead judge in the case, in a judgement likely to be contested. “In the case of other young people, the accused used threats of blackmail. He used threats to cause these young people to penetrate themselves.”

    The accused man will not go to prison, although he is under court order to be treated by a psychiatrist.

    According to Liesbeth Kennis, an expert on sexual violence, the law allows for a definition of rape in cases where a victim is forced to penetrate themselves, even at a distance. “Such cases are vary rarely judged,” she told the VRT. “Very few judges will rule on rape in such circumstances. In most cases the ruling will be one of the distribution of child pornography,” she said.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times