In a sweeping and unprecedented crackdown on suspected child sex abusers, French authorities have detained around 80 men, including a local councillor and two schoolteachers, in a series of arrests that spanned 53 out of France’s 101 departments.

The operation, led by the Office for Minors within the judicial police, targeted individuals from various backgrounds, emphasizing the disturbing reality that child sex crimes cut across all walks of life.

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Commissioner Quentin Bevan, who heads the operational unit of the Office for Minors, revealed that the detainees, ranging in age from around 30 to over 60, were apprehended in a wide-ranging effort to address child sexual abuse within professions where adults have regular contact with children.

The operation uncovered alarming cases, including the arrest of two teachers, several sports coaches, and a monitor in a centre for disabled children.

The detainees, who had diverse backgrounds and professions, illustrate the complexity of child sex crimes, with Commissioner Bevan emphasizing that “there is no typical profile in child sex crime.”

Among the arrested individuals were those suspected of possessing explicit materials stolen from pupils, sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse of minors.

In one alarming case, a monitor at a centre for disabled children had a prior conviction for rape from “several decades ago” but had managed to change his identity, allowing him to have contact with children once again.

Bevan emphasized that the operation aimed to address not only online child sex abuse but also crimes committed in real life or those on the verge of occurring.

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The magnitude of the investigation became apparent during police searches, which revealed “more than 100,000” videos and photos on computers or hard drives.

Bevan described some of the content as “extremely violent,” including “sexual acts on babies or children being sexually abused by animals,” labelling it as “the worst kind of vile.”

Martine Brousse, head of the Voice of the Child organization, highlighted the real-world impact of these crimes, stating, “Vulnerable children have been raped, and many have suffered acts of torture and barbarity.”

All the suspects admitted to the presented facts during police custody, with some attempting to downplay or deny their responsibility.

The arrests led to court appearances for 51 men, 13 of whom were jailed, while 38 are under court supervision. Investigations are ongoing for the remaining suspects, and the interior ministry has emphasized the commitment to continue the pursuit of justice in these distressing cases.

The comprehensive operation underscores the gravity of the issue and the need for proactive measures to combat child sex abuse across various sectors of society.

As investigations continue, French authorities are sending a strong message that such heinous crimes will be met with unwavering scrutiny and legal consequences.