Huge assault trial gets underway

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One of Norway’s biggest and most expensive sexual assault trials ever started up in a courthouse south of Oslo on Monday. The defendant known as

Lommemannen (The Pocket Man) is suspected of hundreds of assaults against young boys over the past few decades. He has been charged with 68 of them and admitted to 16, but lashed out in court at the police and media for trying to pin him to so many more.

The defendant is a 57-year-old affluent businessman from Bergen, an alleged pedophile who attacked boys all over the country. His work allowed him to travel often and extensively around Norway and the investigation into his crimes involved 17 police districts.

All told they’d spent more than six years and an estimated NOK 16 million before the Pocket Man was arrested at his home in Bergen last year. The “Pocket Man” names comes from his habit of asking boys to put their hands in his trouser pocket, which had been cut away, leading the boys to touch his penis.

Most of the charges against him involve such assaults against 66 victims, but two also involve rape. He pleaded guilty to seven assaults, partially guilty to nine attempted assaults and to six violations of weapons laws. He denied the rapes and accused police and the media of trying to pin him to scores of unsolved sexual assault cases.

The defendant has been subject to extensive psychiatric testing during his time in custody and was deemed fit to stand trial. He said in court that the assaults he’s admitted to were motivated by chronic stress and depression, boredom and a need for excitement. He said he’d been assaulted himself as a seven-year-old but now feels rehabilitated.

His trial began in the Follo District Court with a lengthy reading of the charges against him. He was then allowed to tell his version of events before the first of 22 victims will testify. Police have said the victims, most of them now teenagers, dread having to appear in court and only those over age 16 have been called to testify. All told, hundreds of people will be called on to answer questions and give testimony during the five-month trial.

His defense attorney Gunhild Lærum told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that her client had been looking forward to the trial. She also has said he doesn’t want his victims to blame themselves or feel any guilt about the assaults. “He is of the opinion that what happened is his responsibility, something he has done,” she said.

He said in court that he understood his victims were furious with him and he begged their pardon, saying he knew he’d behaved badly.

The trial is scheduled to last until March.