A 41-year-old man in Sweden on Thursday was convicted of rape and sentenced to 10 years in prison—and he never met any of the people he assaulted.
The Associated Press reported Bjorn Samstrom assaulted 26 girls and one boy under the age of 15, threatening to kill their relatives or post their photos on pornography sites unless they performed sex acts in front of a webcam.
In a decision that could change the way online predators are persecuted, the court said Samstrom was guilty of rape, sexual coercion, and other charges. It’s the first time in Sweden a person has been convicted of rape for offenses that happened on the internet, the AP reported.
Swedish law doesn’t have to involve actual intercourse, according to the AP, but “can be an act considered equally violated.”
Samstrom admitted to coercing the teenagers, but he doesn’t think his actions constituted rape. He intends to appeal the sentence, the AP reported.
A prosecutor involved in the Sweden case, Annika Wennerström, told the National Post that she and other prosecutors are hoping to set a precedent.
“We have to adapt our mindset to, ‘What can a rape be?’” Wennerström said. “We say a rape can be different things. You don’t always have to have the textbook case of a physical attack or physical coercion.”