Retired SA public servant pleads guilty to paying families to victimise minors on camera

The offender threatened the families of the Filipino victims with starvation if they didn’t fulfill requests

Retired SA public servant pleads guilty to paying families to victimise minors on camera

A retired public servant from the South Australian Department of Premier and Cabinet has pleaded guilty to 50 sexual offences before the Adelaide District Court.

The charges against Ian Ralph Schapel included 41 counts of “engaging in sexual activity with a child outside of Australia, using a carriage service to access child exploitation material and possessing child exploitation material.” He had paid Filipino families up to $30 to perform sexual acts on their minor daughters on camera while he watched on Skype and WhatsApp.

Schapel was found to have engaged in 74 occasions of sexual activity with at least 13 children aged between three and nine years old in the Philippines. He also had more than 52,000 images and videos of child exploitation material in his possession, ABC News reported.

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Commonwealth prosecutor Krista Breckweg told the court that Schapel “preyed on the economic vulnerability of the facilitators and the children, acknowledging that the communication was usually initiated by the adult women who contacted him asking for money to buy food or medicine.”

Breckweg said that the chat logs extracted from Skype and WhatsApp established that Schapel was directing the parents or facilitators to tell the children what to do. If they did not meet his requests, he would threaten them and on occasion said, “you starve now.”

“While the offender may be thousands of miles away, they are responsible for the abuse and exploitation of children for their own gratification,” Commissioner for Victims’ Rights Bronwyn Killmier said in a community impact statement before the court.

She added that “victims and facilitators are often in countries of high levels of poverty, unemployment and job instability so the cost for offenders is relatively low. Thus, the cycle of abuse is perpetrated by economic imbalances and results in lifelong damage for the children victims.”

Schapel is set to be sentenced in February next year.


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