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Victims of sexual abuse may have included girls

Helsingin Sanomat, Finland
Sep. 5, 2003 • Monday September 8, 2003

Police: victims of sexual abuse at Adventist boarding school may have included girls

Police investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct at Toivonlinna, a boarding school run by the Finnish Adventist Church, have led to suspicions that both girls and boys may have been victims of sexual molestation by members of the staff.

Harri Rahikka of the National Bureau of Investigation, who is the head of the investigation into the case, says that ever since the news of the suspicions was made public, police have been receiving a constant stream of calls from people who say that they suffered sexual abuse.

The initial allegations were that the victims had been mainly boys, but now there are reports that girls may also have been involved.

Rahikka also says that investigations have revealed that there may have been more than one perpetrator.

All of the suspected cases appear to have taken place at the Toivonlinna school.

Rahikka does not want to say at this point in the investigation when the crimes may have taken place.

He notes that police have been looking into suspicions of foul play at Toivonlinna already for some time. The actual investigation began last week, and the allegations were made public on Monday.

Suspicions of sexual abuse of children came to the attention of the child welfare committee of the Adventist Church already last year. At that time a lawyer hired by the church advised against reporting the suspicions to the police or to child welfare authorities.

Police want to find out first if any of the victims were under the age of 16 when the suspected abuse took place, and whether the alleged crimes in question involve child abuse or aggravated child abuse.

Sexual abuse of a child can bring a sentence of up to four years in prison, and the statute of limitations is 10 years.

Aggravated sexual abuse carries a maximum ten-year sentence, and the statute of limitations is 20 years.

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