A parent’s worst nightmare

  • 2010-12-23
  • From wire reports

RIGA - Arrested pedophilia suspect Roberts Mikelsons, who has been behind bars for two weeks in a Dutch jail, has attempted suicide in his cell several times and is now under constant watch, reports De Telegraaf. He had tried to hang himself.
The paper says the case is “spreading like an oil spill” as the number of identified victims grows. The number of Mikelsons’ identified victims has reached 64 children, an increase from his initial confession of between 30 and 50 victims, says the Municipality of Amsterdam, reports news agency LETA. Investigators are collecting data to confirm his statements.

Mikelsons has said that in 2009 he worked briefly in the kindergarten De Toverlantaarn, and was fired because the administration and colleagues believed that he was stubborn and hard to work with. Even though he worked only nine days in the kindergarten, Mikelsons confessed to abusing one more child there. The child’s parents have already been informed about the confession.

Information has also surfaced that Mikelsons at one time led games and drawing activities at the Netherlands Latvian Society School Saulite in The Hague. He had been an instructor there on four occasions, according to Melita Hartger-Rumberga, the society’s chair. She is convinced that Mikelsons made no sexual advances toward the children, as four or more parents were always present, and he was never alone with them.

Meanwhile, the Municipality of Amsterdam has initiated its own independent investigation of child abuse in kindergartens.
Mikelsons has a history of pedophilia. He was charged with possession of child pornography materials in Germany in 2003, RTL News television reported. The police in the German city of Heidelberg found child pornography materials on the Internet, which lead them to Mikelsons’ computer. He was arrested in June 2003, and received a one-year sentence, which was suspended for three years.

Mikelsons was one of five volunteers who were sent to work in other European countries by Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church (LELC) Youth Department within the European Union Youth Program European Volunteer Work in 2002. LELC spokesperson Ivars Kupcis said that Mikelsons was working as a volunteer in a Heidelberg kindergarten from 2002. Of all workplaces within the European Volunteer Work program, Mikelsons himself chose to work in a kindergarten.

“In 2002, LELC Youth Department was actively involved in the European volunteer movement within the European Youth Program, helping volunteers find jobs in the European Youth Program organizations in Europe. Any young person could apply - not just church members. Several volunteers had their applications approved on their friends’ recommendation. Obviously, Mikelsons was one of such young people to use this opportunity, and the church’s youth organization had no reason to question his suitability,” said LELC Public Relations Department.
After participating in this program, Mikelsons remained in Germany.

The Latvian emigrant Mikelsons, who was arrested in the Netherlands on Dec. 7, was an “avid reader” and a “rather withdrawn boy in school,” and he became interested in children’s rights protection issues when he was a high school student, said his former teachers. Lilija Priedniece, Mikelsons’ teacher in primary school, remembers him as a withdrawn and well-behaved boy. “He read very much, mostly science fiction, he was interested in geography and had a good command of English. He was not a straight ‘A’ pupil, but certainly not an intractable person. He regularly went to school and was well-behaved,” recalls Priedniece.

Mikelsons was always neatly dressed; his mother always attended parent meetings.
A former classmate of Mikelsons remembers that she once had a conflict with him in 7th grade, and was surprised that he informed his mother about it. She said Mikelsons had no friends in school, and sometimes he was ridiculed by his classmates. She also remembers that Mikelsons was a very good reader, and very interested in computers. Mikelsons lived in his own world, and his classmates did not interest him.

Riga 8th Evening High School Director Juris Smits said that Mikelsons was obsessed with children’s rights protection, and tried to attend all events organized by then Riga Children’s Rights Protection Center’s head Janis Gulbis. Smits said he had no other memories of Mikelsons.
Mikelsons also worked as a volunteer in an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya, in the fall of 2008. The orphanage housed 17 children at the time, of which most were girls between the ages of 5 and 15. About 60 children attended the school next door.

The director of the orphanage, Lucia Kajiva, and the school expressed shock that Mikelsons is a pedophile, but as far as she knows, no one at the orphanage was subjected to his sexual advances. “He seemed like an innocent child to me, and someone you can trust,” the director said. While in Kenya, Mikelsons kept an Internet diary, describing himself as an “idealist, dreamer, philosopher, bookworm and cycling fanatic.” He left out “child abuser.”
Kajiva said that Mikelsons left a good impression on her. Mikelsons had told her that he suffered violence from his mother when he was young, however, she did not specify whether it was physical or sexual.

According to De Telegraaf, Mickelsons was able to work with very young children without any checks on his criminal record abroad.

Dutch MPs now want the VOG - the certificate of good behavior Mikelsons received and which is supposed to prove that someone does not have a criminal record which would prevent them doing their job - be extended to a European police search, not just domestically, reports Dutchnews.nl. MPs also called for a European register of sex offenders to be set up.