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Finnish court issues 10.5-year sentence for more than 100 sex crimes

The Pirkanmaa District Court on Thursday convicted a man of sex crimes and related offences involving over 100 victims, most of them minors.

The defendant covered his face in court.
The defendant covered his face in court. Image: Anu Leena Hankaniemi / Yle
Yle News

The Pirkanmaa District Court sentenced Jesse Niko Kristian Erkkonen to 10 years and 6 months in prison for sex crimes and related offences that took place between 2016 and 2021.

The case was tried behind closed doors for 31 days beginning in mid-February, but Thursday's sentencing was carried out in open court.

As many as 118 victims were involved in the case, mainly girls between the ages of 10 and 17, who were asked to take nude photos. The victims were from various parts of Finland.

The legal age of consent in Finland is 16. The court considered whether the defendant should have known that most of his victims were minors. According to the court, Erkkonen who was born in 1996, had asked the age of some of his victims. In addition, some of the young people told him their age, or it could be seen from their social network profiles.

"It didn't bother him," the presiding judge confirmed the accused as saying.

Denied all charges

Erkkonen, 27, denied that he was the perpetrator of the crimes, or claimed that he did not remember or know about the incidents.

The scope of the series of crimes was revealed to the authorities in the autumn of 2021, when the suspect was detained and the police searched his phones.

Once the case came to light, a number of youngsters came forward and informed school officials that they had been targeted by Erkkonen.

According to the charges, he asked some of the children to meet him near a sports field where he exposed himself to them. Erkkonen had physical sexual contact with some of the victims, including sexual intercourse with some.

Erkkonen asked victims to perform various sexual acts via the Snapchat messaging app. He instructed them to send certain types of photos and also sent photos and videos of himself. Erkkonen had several accounts on Snapchat.

According to the court, the minors were given tobacco, and in some instances cannabis, in exchange for the photos. They were also threatened with the publication of their images.

Multiple counts

The multiple charges and multiple counts in the case included aggravated rape, aggravated sexual abuse of a child, sexual abuse of a child, aggravated dissemination of an image that violates sexual decency, purchasing sexual services from a minor, forcing a sexual act, enticing a child for sexual purposes, illegal threats and drug crimes.

The Pirkanmaa District Court rejected nine of the individual charges, due to a lack of evidence or because they had passed the statute of limitations.

Lawyer critical of sentence

Jyri Kilpi, a lawyer who represented some 40 of the victims, calculated that the serious crimes of which Erkkonen was convicted would have resulted in a 50-year sentence if they had been added up individually. This is not done in Finland, because the maximum prison sentence which can be imposed is 13 years.

"In some countries, like the US, it would have been a sentence of 100 years," Kilpi said after Thursday's court proceedings.

Kilpi added that a sexual crime always causes suffering to the victims. Several victims of the victims in this case have now been diagnosed with psychological problems. In addition, he said, these young people have to live the rest of their lives with the fear that their photos will appear online.

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