The government ministry in charge of children’s and equality issues is “evaluating” whether there’s reason to further review child protection cases that involved a psychiatrist who since has been convicted of possessing huge quantities of child pornography.
The leader of the state commission that appoints psychiatric experts to evaluate those involved in child welfare cases has already advised child protection agency Barnevernet to review cases in which the convicted psychiatrist was involved. Newspaper Aftenposten reported that Katrin Koch, who heads the commission known as Barnesakkyndig kommisjon, said it was “reasonable” to question whether his professional ability to assess cases of child welfare was influenced by “his private situation.”
Downloaded porn for more than 20 years
That “private situation” concerns his conviction earlier this year on charges that he had downloaded child pornography for more than 20 years. News service ABC Nyheter reported that police who raided his home in January last year found 205,536 computer files showing sexual assaults on children.
“The case is large in terms of content, and contains photos and video of grave character,” Jens Johannes Andenæs, a prosecutor for the Oslo Police District, told ABC Nyheter. Police seized a total of 193,491 photos and 12,045 videos containing fully 4,064 hours of various assaults on children. Police also found eight printed publications featuring child porn and 94 photos printed on paper.
They all portrayed, according to court documents, sexual assaults against children, between children and against themselves. Norwegian police had raided the 56-year-old psychiatriat’s home after receiving tips from police in Switzerland that a Norwegian IP-address had been found on a computer service that facilitates sharing of child pornography.
State police unit Kripos “worked further on the case,” Andenæs said, and found that the psychiatrist was the user of the IP-address. He was widely viewed as a highly respected psychiatrist who was called upon as an expert to evaluate cases being handled by the child protection agency. In line with press practice in Norway, he has not been publicly identified.
State commission member
He was, however, a member of the commission itself that evaluated the work of other psychiatrists and child welfare workers at Barnevernet. He has admitted that at the same time, he was downloading huge amounts of photos and video of sexual assaults on children. He was suspended from his job as a doctor and psychiatrist, and from the commission, shortly after his arrest.
The case caught the attention of the British state broadcaster, BBC, which recently ran a documentary about it entitled “Norway’s Silent Scandal.” It noted how Norway’s child protection agency has been accused of taking children away from their parents without justification. The disputed cases often involved those where Barnevernet feels compelled to crack down on parents who spank or otherwise physically punish their chilren because such punishment is not allowed by law Norway. Barnevernet has been the target of massive international protests in cases involving parents who are involved in conservative international church movements.
The commission has already gone through the convicted psychiatrist’s record as an expert witness and found that his evaluations did not deviate from other commission members’ evaluations of the same cases. The commission has found only one case when he was used as a court-appointed psychiatrist since its founding in 2010.
Einar Salvesen, a specialist in psychology who contributed to the BBC report, told Aftenposten that he’s urging formation of a commission to go through the Barnevernet cases where the convicted psychiatrist was involved, also prior to 2010.