A man in his 30s who has worked in various day care centers in the Bergen area reportedly has admitted to assaulting four other children in addition to a four-year-old boy he’s been charged with raping. Norway’s national police unit Kripos has joined the investigation into the case, while crisis teams assist shocked parents.
Newspaper Bergensavisen reported that the man was arrested late last week after the four-year-old boy told his own parents about what happened to him at a city-run day care center (barnehagen) on Wednesday. The suspect was also charged with possession of photos of assaults on children after police seized his computer equipment following his arrest. He reportedly had downloaded the photos from the Internet over several years.
Other parents notified
On Tuesday, newspaper VG reported that the man had admitted during police questioning to assaults against four other children. He reportedly identified his young victims and their parents have been informed of the alleged assaults by police.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that parents at the day care center where the man had worked most recently were shocked but praised the flow of information and assistance they had received from city officials so far.
“I had heard about (the assaults) but hadn’t dreamed it involved our day care center,” one father told NRK. “Both the city and the day care center have reacted very quickly.”
The suspect, said to have been popular and well-liked by colleagues, children and parents, did not attend his custody hearing on Monday, at which a local judge ordered him held for at least four weeks while police continue to investigate the case. The first two weeks are to be served in total isolation.
Parents met with more assistance
Parents delivering their children on Tuesday to the day care center involved were given direct numbers to psychologists ready to help them along with 15 people from a city-organized crisis team, child welfare workers and educators called in from other centers.
Parents were also advised about how to speak with their children about assaults. They were urged not to directly question their children but rather simply encourage them to talk. The four-year-old had spoken with his parents, who reported his story to the police before the weekend.
Attorneys involved in the case said they were subject to strict confidentiality agreements, while police officials were reluctant to comment as well. The custody hearing was conducted behind closed doors, but city officials confirmed a police investigation of possible sexual assaults on children was underway.
The rape report “was a terrible message to receive and we are taking this very seriously,” Robert Rastad of Bergen Kommune told news bureau NTB. “We are concentrating on doing all we can to support the day care center so that it can offer good and secure care to children in the future.” The city also held an information meeting for parents at Bergen’s City Hall on Monday evening that was closed to media coverage.