Toijala child abuse case less extensive than thought - one arrest made
Police discount claims of Satan worship
One man in the southern communmity of Toijala has been arrested on suspicion of the sexual abuse of children. Police are not disclosing his age, or place of residence. Police say that they believe that fewer than five children were abused. The head of social services in Toijala says that there were about ten victims. Police are also downplaying initial reports that Satanic rituals might have been involved.
"Naturally quite a few names have come up, but their involvement in this case remains unclear, so we cannot say yet that they would have been victims", said the head of the investigation, Hannu Kallioniemi of the Tampere Police.
Pirjo Kukkonen, the head of social services for the city of Toijala, says that officials know of about ten likely victims in the area, and that the exact number would come out as the investigation continues.
The number of suspects could also increase. The crimes themselves were said to have been committed in the past summer.
Kukkonen said that there were indications of Satan worship. Police say that while they are not ruling anything out, there is no evidence of any Satanic rituals being involved.
There had been reports that the victims of the abuse had cut themselves and had changed their style of dress.
Titus Hjelm, a researcher at the Department of Religious Science at the University of Helsinki warns against drawing hasty conclusions of Satan worship on the basis of such behaviour.
He also urges caution in seeing linkages between the Toijala case and Satanic ritual.
The investigation of the case was shifted on Monday from the local police to a special task force in Tampere.
Meanwhile, the local school was operating normally on Monday, but the principal was not available for comment.
Some of the pupils were absent, as they had been taken to another community.
The decision to take the girls into protective care was an exceptional measure, especially as not all of the parents know where their daughters have been taken.
"It can be assumed that this is a repeat of a case from ten years ago. At that time something like this was taking place on a smaller scale, and at least one of the same people was under suspicion. In addition, friends and families of the girls have received threats, so they are in a tight spot. Officials have also been threatened, and probably will be threatened again", said Mayor Pauli Ihamäki, explaining the climate of fear.
On Monday, the school guidance counsellor, and the school psychologist had a short meeting with teachers on how to discuss the matter in class. They were given a brief letter that the children were asked to take home to their parents.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Police investigate reports of large-scale child abuse in southern community (19.9.2005)