A verdict is handed out to media at Uppsala District Court, Uppsala, Sweden Thursday. A court in Sweden has sentenced a Swedish man to 10 years in prison for coercing teenagers in Canada, Britain and the United States to perform sexual acts in front of webcams by threatening them or their families. The Uppsala City Court said Thursday that Bjorn Samstrom was guilty of online sexual offences against 27 children between 2015 and early 2017. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A verdict is handed out to media at Uppsala District Court, Uppsala, Sweden Thursday. A court in Sweden has sentenced a Swedish man to 10 years in prison for coercing teenagers in Canada, Britain and the United States to perform sexual acts in front of webcams by threatening them or their families. The Uppsala City Court said Thursday that Bjorn Samstrom was guilty of online sexual offences against 27 children between 2015 and early 2017. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Swedish man convicted of ‘online’ rape; Canadian teen among victims

A Swedish man has been found guilty of raping young girls, including one Canadian victim, strictly on the basis of his threatening and coercive online interactions with them.

Thursday’s verdict against Bjorn Samstrom, 41, marks the sixth time he has been convicted of offences involving forcing minors to perform sexual acts.

The latest case involved allegations of sexual coercion against 27 victims in Canada, the United States and Scotland, according to prosecutor Annika Wennerstrom.

She said court heard that Samstrom would threaten to post photos of the victims on pornography sites or to kill their relatives unless they performed sex acts as he watched from Sweden.

Wennerstrom said Samstrom was found guilty of 59 of the nearly 100 charges he faced, including four counts of aggravated rape of a child. One of those convictions, she said, pertained to a Canadian girl who was 13 at the time.

Samstrom has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for the convictions.

Wennerstrom said the verdict sets a new precedent for sex crimes perpetrated over the internet.

Despite what she described as a positive outcome, however, Wennerstrom said she plans to appeal the verdict on the grounds that the new precedent may be too stringent.

She said the rape convictions were obtained for situations when the victim was totally alone in a room and being forced to perform particularly explicit sex acts on camera.

She argued the bar needs to be set lower.

“We have penetrations with long durations, and pain, and agony, and the children are afraid, and they cry, and it’s still not enough,” Wennerstrom said of the cases that did not lead to convictions. “So we are not completely content with this outcome because we think that it should be enough.”

Both sides have three weeks to file an appeal, an avenue Samstrom’s defence lawyer suggested he too may choose to pursue.

“He has been convicted of crimes which he does not consider he is guilty of. So it is very possible that he appeals,” Kronje Samuelsson told Swedish news agency TT.

Samstrom admitted coercing the teens — all under age 15 at the time — but denied his actions constituted rape.

Wennerstrom said the ruling is the first of its kind in Sweden, adding she knows of no other countries with a similar conviction on record.

She said Sweden’s highest court had previously ruled that the lesser charge of sexual assault could be committed through the internet, but said no court had convicted someone of rape in the same way until Thursday.

Under Swedish law, rape doesn’t have to include intercourse, but can be an act considered equally violating.

Wennerstrom said Samstrom had a long history of similar offences dating back to his teens.

She said the latest case marked the sixth time he came before the court, adding his preferred modes of communication have evolved over the years from the telephone to the internet.

“He’s been keeping up with time,” she said of his reliance on technology. “He’s ahead of us, but I’m very pleased that they found him because we need to get him out of the internet for awhile.”

Samstrom lived alone near Uppsala, some 70 kilometres north of Stockholm, at the time of his most recent arrest. The international case came to light when Samstrom was being investigated for another coercion case involving Swedish victims, Wennerstrom said.

During that investigation, she said police found videos at his home of girls speaking English.

Swedish investigators contacted counterparts in Canada, Britain and the United States, who located 18 of the 26 girls and interviewed them. None were present at the trial, but their videotaped testimonies were played in court.

The other nine victims were never identified.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The interchange at Highway 2 and McKenzie Road at the south end of Gasoline Alley is being redesigned with two roundabouts. Construction is expected to begin this month and finish in October. (Graphic from Red Deer County)
Roudabouts coming to McKenzie Road overpass at Gasoline Alley

Project expected to improve traffic flow at busy intersections

A federal strategy to preserve threatened trout could conflict with provincial coal leases in the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies. (Contributed photo by Jeff Lund).
Federal regulations could save Alberta’s bull trout by shutting down mining plans, says biologist

Ottawa’s new strategy identifies a 30-metre protected area along rivers and streams

(Contributed image)
Wolf Creek Public Schools will not participate in curriculum pilot

Central Alberta school jurisdiction joins others across Alberta

Canada's Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, fom left, celebrate after winning women's gold medal match against Brazil's team at the Beach Volley Worldtour Major Series, in Vienna, Austria on August 4, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ronald Zak
Canada’s world champion beach volleyball duo finally getting games before Tokyo

Canada’s world champion beach volleyball duo finally getting games before Tokyo

Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch (24) gets fouled by Atlanta Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (13) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Bogdanovic, Capela lead Hawks past Raptors 107-103

Bogdanovic, Capela lead Hawks past Raptors 107-103

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu throws to a New York Yankees batter during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Ryu sharp into 7th, Semien homers as Blue Jays top Yanks 7-3

Ryu sharp into 7th, Semien homers as Blue Jays top Yanks 7-3

Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau (13) scores the game winning goal on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender David Rittich (33) in overtime NHL action in Toronto on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Gaudreau scores in overtime, Flames beat Maple Leafs 3-2

Gaudreau scores in overtime, Flames beat Maple Leafs 3-2

Jim Bullock, Vicki Pappas and Randy Waples off to Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

Jim Bullock, Vicki Pappas and Randy Waples off to Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

Canada's Evelyne Viens celebrates scoring against Wales during the women's international friendly soccer match at Leckwith Stadium, Wales, Friday April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nick Potts/PA via AP
Canada capitalizes on England mistakes to win women’s soccer friendly 2-0

Canada capitalizes on England mistakes to win women’s soccer friendly 2-0

After weekend hiccup at men’s worlds, Grand Slams move into curling bubble

After weekend hiccup at men’s worlds, Grand Slams move into curling bubble

Erickson Gallardo of Canada's Toronto FC and his teammates celebrate after Andres Mosquera of Mexico's Leon scored an own goal during their Concacaf Champions League soccer match in Leon, Mexico, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRES/AP/Mario Armas
Toronto FC gets vaccine boost but injury list still an issue ahead of Leon rematch

Toronto FC gets vaccine boost but injury list still an issue ahead of Leon rematch

Most Read