South Australian man's sickening demands exposed as child abuse ring is dismantled

South Australian man’s sickening demands exposed as child abuse ring is dismantled

A South Australian man jailed over a child sex abuse ring in the Philippines paid $30 for each live act of abuse online, threatening the children with starvation if they didn’t obey his demands.

Ian Ralph Schapel was jailed for 16 years after pleading guilty to 50 child sexual offences, including paying for children to be abused while he watched from his lounge room in Adelaide.

The investigation into his crimes led to the rescue of 15 young victims and the arrest of five people in the Philippines following an international investigation.

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The 68-year-old former government human resources manager was first detained in February 2020 after Australian Border Force officers examined his bags when he arrived in Melbourne on an overseas flight and allegedly found child abuse material on his mobile phone.

He was charged over the content, which eventually led to the discovery of more than 50,000 images and videos of child abuse material on a range of electronic devices at his Adelaide home.

South Australian man Ian Ralph Schapel. Credit: 7NEWS

The AFP used commonwealth laws for the first time to confiscate Schapel’s home in Mitchell Park because it was used as “an instrument of crime” where the majority of the offending took place.

He was ordered to pay a total of $165,000, half of his home’s value.

Further investigations by SA police found he had communicated with people in the Philippines to procure several children, the youngest aged three.

In February last year, Schapel admitted 50 offences, including viewing, remotely instructing and recording the sexual abuse of children on 55 occasions between March 2018 and January 2020.

An Adelaide man’s crimes led to the rescue of 15 young victims and five arrests in the Philippines. Credit: AAP
One of the alleged offenders of the ongoing child sex abuse hides her face inside a premises in the Philippines before her arrest. Credit: AFP

As part of the international investigation, Philippine authorities executed search warrants at multiple locations in Bislig, a remote area in the country’s east, in August 2020.

Thirteen children and two young adults were removed from harm and five women were arrested and accused of facilitating the abuse for profit. Among the abusers, were mothers, aunts and cousins ​​of the victims.

On Wednesday, Judge Paul Cuthbertson described Schapel’s behavior as “callous” and “disgraceful” with “no thought given to the plight of the poor unfortunate children who were required to perform at request”.

The court had heard Schapel paid $30 for each live recording of the sexual abuse, and that he would threaten to let the children starve if they did not do what he asked.

Australian Federal Police Commander Erica Merrin said the case highlighted the force’s commitment to work with partners to protect children around the world.

“Children are being forced into the most appalling violence and torment on camera by the people who are meant to love and to protect them,” she said.

“This Adelaide man did not just watch children being hurt, he ordered specific abuse to happen and preyed on the economic vulnerability of the people involved.”

The case served as the first example where an AFP taskforce had sought to confiscate the home of a person charged with sex offences. Credit: AFP

Philippine Police Brigadier General Edgar De Mayo Cacayan said close collaboration with the AFP and other international partners should send a strong message to would-be child sex offenders.

“You will not buy and sell the sexual abuse of children in the Philippines,” he said.

“We will not allow it, and we will be their guardians. We will find you, and you will have to answer for your actions in a court of law.”

Merrin echoed a similar warning.

“It doesn’t matter when you offended, when you abused children, if you prey on children, it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, we will come for you.”

Schapel will be eligible for parole in 2031.

-With APA

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