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Babysitter arrested in child abuse case

  • 2010-12-15
  • From wire reports

RIGA - Dutch police believe that Roberts Mikelsons, arrested last week in Amsterdam, and his husband, may be part of a worldwide pedophile network and the driving force behind the Web site boyhoodmagazine.org, reports dutchnews.nl. The 27-year-old Riga-born Mikelsons emigrated to the Netherlands from Latvia six years ago.
Mikelsons, who for a period worked in creches (nurseries) in Amsterdam and hired himself out as a babysitter, has confessed to multiple counts of sexual abuse of children, announced prosecutors on Dec. 12, reports AFP. “The suspect said he had abused tens of young children,” said a statement from an Amsterdam courtroom. “He is also suspected of having produced and distributed child pornography,” it added.

The suspect had initially confessed to abusing 33 children. Mikelsons’ victims were not older than four years.
He had worked in two Amsterdam creches, Hofnaaretje and Jenno’s Knuffelparadijs, between February 2007 and January 2010, said the court statement.
Mikelsons’ husband, Richard van Olffen, a 37-year-old local, had also been taken into custody on suspicion of possession of child pornography, but was not for the moment suspected of child sexual abuse, it added.
Parents of the children who were in the day nurseries at the time the suspect worked were informed of the developments at a special meeting with the police, prosecutors and city council officials. Five hundred attended.

The man was arrested on Dec. 7 after the Dutch authorities received a tip-off from the U.S. authorities.
It was the discovery of a huge collection of child pornography in the U.S. state of Massachusetts in November that led investigators to Mikelsons, reports newkerala.com. U.S. authorities said the arrest followed weeks of intense cooperation between U.S. law enforcement agencies.

In early November, Massachusetts State Police arrested a 46-year-old man from the town of Milford after receiving a tip from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). During a search of his computer storage devices, some 10,000 images and videos of young children engaged in sexual acts were discovered.

The suspect in the United States was identified as Robert Didua, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography and one count of dissemination of child pornography.
One of the images which were found on Didua’s computer showed a two-year-old boy with his toy rabbit Miffy whose diaper had been opened to expose his genitalia. Other videos and photos were later also found, showing an adult man sexually abusing a two-year-old boy.

Investigators determined that the photos and videos did not appear to have been made in the United States and shared an edited image on Interpol’s secure system for international law enforcement officials in order to help identify the victim. As a result, Dutch police recognized it was of Dutch origin and received additional photos to help in the investigation.
On Dec. 7, a picture of the boy was shown on Dutch television by a local crime stopper program. This immediately led to a call from someone who recognized the child and, within hours, Mikelsons was arrested, eventually confessing to more crimes.

A third man who worked at one of the nursery schools where Mikelsons has worked was also arrested, for allegedly attempting an ‘indecent’ on-line chat.
According to dutchnews.nl, a complaint about Mikelsons was made to both the creche management and police in 2008. The woman who made the complaint said to TV station AT5 that she went to the authorities after her son told her strange stories about things he and another toddler had been made to do by Mikelsons. But both the creche leadership and police dismissed her concerns as the fantasy of a very young child, the mother claimed.

Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan said on Dec. 13 that it appeared a serious error of judgment had been made.
Mikelsons did not have a criminal record, but did have an official certificate of good behavior, known as a VOG. He is a master encryptor and has built Web sites for a variety of small firms, including an Amsterdam driving school, says the paper Telegraaf. Mikelsons was active on a Latvian social networking site where there are lots of photographs of him with children in the Netherlands and Kenya.

Mikelsons and his partner had been recently turned down for adoption. A spokesman for the child protection council which rejected the gay couple’s application declined to say on what grounds they had been refused.
The number of victims may have to be revised to more than 50, warns Mayor van der Laan. Although initial estimates said between 30 and 50, Mikelsons himself has named 53 children. “And I fear that we will have to increase the total,” van der Laan told TV show Nieuwsuur.