Record claims in child abuse case

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Prosecutors handling what’s being called the most serious sexual assault charges ever brought before a Norwegian court are demanding prison terms in line with the record-breaking aspects of the case. Lawyers for the assault victims are also seeking record levels of compensation for their clients.

The case has been unfolding in a courtroom in Elverum, Hedmark County and involves years of repeated assaults by a Norwegian mother and her live-in companion against her own children, both of whom are autistic.

Two neighbour children were also victims of sexual assault after the main defendant and her partner were joined by the neighbour children’s parents and a third man in the abuse that lawyers have described as “extraordinarily ugly.”

It all took place in a residential community in the small town of Alvdal, at the northern tip of the county’s eastern valley of Østerdalen. The abuse lasted for at least eight years. The four children are now teenagers.

“It is difficult to put a pricetag on a ruined childhood,” said Inger Johanne Reiestad Hansen, one of the lawyers representing the victims, as the three-week trial drew to a close. All told, though, she and her colleagues are seeking record compensation of NOK 9 million (USD 1.5 million) from the five defendants, high by Norwegian standards.

Prosecutors are seeking Norway’s harshest form of punishment called forvaring, a form of custody that involves an initial minimum term but can last for life. Iris Storås, lead lawyer for the prosecuting team, asked the judge to sentence the 46-year-old mother to 13 years in custody and 14 years for her 64-year-old partner. Both have been deemed pedophiles by court-appointed psychiatrists and that the risk of them committing future assaults against children is high.

Their assaults against their own children were deemed grov (aggravated) and many were filmed, providing unusually strong evidence for the prosecution.

The custody sought by Storås is the longest ever sought in a case involving sexual assault against children in Norway, and is likely to set new legal precedent. Storås said she could find no circumstances to ease the prosecution’s stance.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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