A German woman and her partner have been convicted and sentenced to years in prison for repeatedly raping the woman's young son, then selling him for sex on the darknet.
The horrific crimes have shocked the small town of Staufen in southern Germany. The perpetrators – identified only as 48-year-old Berrin T. and 39-year-old Christian L. — have admitted to the crimes, including to selling the boy for sex acts to multiple men over the course of two years.
Berrin T., the mother, was sentenced to 12 years and 6 months in prison. Christian L. was sentenced to 12 years with preventative detention.
The court also ordered the couple to pay 42,500 euros (about $49,100) to the boy and a young girl who was also a victim, The Associated Press reported.
The boy is now 10 years old, according to German media, and there are huge questions about why authorities failed to intervene earlier, particularly because the mother's partner had a previous child sex abuse conviction.
"A local youth welfare office took custody of the child in March 2017, when it became known that Christian L. — who is subject to a child contact ban — was living in the same house," Deutsche Welle reported. "The mother went to court and won the right to have her boy sent back home."
Apparently, the family court did not interview the boy, according to the broadcaster. And when the child's school raised concerns about abuse, the youth welfare office "considered the allegations so vague and so kept the information to itself." He's now living with a foster family.
The crimes against the boy were well-documented. Apparently many of them were captured on video. The couple was charged with "nearly 60 acts, including forced prostitution, verbal intimidation and abuse, extreme humiliation, physical bondage and rape," DW reports.
German prosecutors have also gone after other suspected members of the pedophile ring. The DPA news agency says that six other people have been sentenced to prison as part of the case.
"A Spanish national received a 10-year prison sentence on Monday after admitting that he had raped the boy on at least 15 occasions and had paid the mother and her partner more than 10,000 euros," DPA reported.
Christian L. claimed in court that he was the "driving force" behind them, and the mother has not stated a motive. According to Deutsche Welle, "psychiatric expert Hartmut Pleines told the court she had an underdeveloped capacity for compassion, adding it was unlikely she was forced into the crimes by her partner, as she claims."