The investigation started last autumn, when the parents of a girl in the western Uusimaa region reported the sexual abuse of their daughter to the police.
On Saturday, the daily Kaleva reported that the police now suspect that as many as two thousand Finnish girls may be victims of sexual abuse or attempts at this.
In March, the number of victims in Southern Finland was said to be in the hundreds.
More than ten men are suspected of the sex crimes, according to Kaleva. The police suspects that each had tens of victims, and that the men operated independent of each other. Their victims were, however, the same.
Kaleva reports that tens of the girls are from the Oulu region. Many more victims are found across the country, between the northern city of Oulu and Finland’s southern tip of Hanko. The youngest girls are nine years old, while most are between the ages of 13 and 15.
Girls lured on the internet
Most of the girls were abused online, though some also met the men and had intercourse with them.
Two of the suspects are from the north, while the rest come from the capital region, Tampere and Uusimaa province. Some of the suspects are in long-term relationships, and many have families.
“As far as we know, the men’s spouses had no knowledge of their actions. This has understandably led to serious family crises,” Chief Inspector Tero Haapala of the National Bureau of Investigation told Kaleva.
According to Haapala, the suspected men found their victims in internet chat forums and other web services popular with young girls. Most prominent among the sites where the predatory men sought girls was the chat-room ‘Kuvake.net’.