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Culture

First man convicted in child predator sting with virtual girl Sweetie

An Australian man with previous child pornography charges is believed to have been the first convicted in an operation using a CGI child to lure predators.

sweetie.jpg
Terre des Hommes

Scott Robert Hansen, who in 2010 was jailed for possessing child pornography and the attempted abduction of a child, pleaded guilty to three charges in Brisbane District Court, the BBC has reported: sending obscene pictures to a child, possession of images of child abuse, and failure to comply with a sex offenders order.

The child Hansen sent the photos to, however, was no ordinary child; in fact, she was no child at all. Nicknamed Sweetie, she was a digital construct created by children's rights group Terre des Hommes, built to resemble a 10-year-old girl in order to track down child sexual predators without putting an actual child in harm's way.

A year ago, the organisation had announced that it had compiled a dossier of 1,000 adults from 71 countries who had contacted Sweetie to attempt to get her to perform sex acts in front of a web cam. When the adults contacted Sweetie in public chat rooms, the team operated her from an Amsterdam warehouse via a software application.

While these predators chatted to Sweetie, the Terre des Hommes team found their information on social networks, and capturing the chats and video logs. Although much of the information would be, according to the BBC, inadmissible in court, much is still usable, as indicated by the Hansen conviction.

An anonymous Terre des Hommes operator told the BBC about the interaction with Hansen, who had believed Sweetie to be a nine-year-old girl and performed a sex act in front of her, "He was very direct, at one point he asked us to get our fictional eight-year-old sister involved. It was very difficult to go to sleep at night after interacting with someone like Hansen."

The operator also noted that Hansen wasn't even among the most serious offenders the team had seen.

Hansen was convicted by Judge Julie Ryrie, who noted that whether the girl was real was irrelevant to the case. "If you believe that's a nine-year-old girl, then that's the law, that's good enough," she said.

He was sentenced to two years in prison, but, as he has already served eight months, is not expected to go to jail. He will, however, be subject to a 12-month correction order and must undertake a sex offender treatment program.