The discovery of a collection of child pornography in Massachusetts last month led investigators to a 27-year-old Dutch man who has since confessed to sexually abusing dozens of young children while working at nurseries and through nanny services he offered online.
Authorities in the Netherlands have released details about the child sex abuse case, announcing the arrest of Roberts Mikelsons, 27, who had been employed at two Amsterdam nurseries between February 2007 and January 2010. He also offered his services through several websites.
U.S. authorities have released the first details about what led to the arrest of Mikelsons, who was born in Latvia, last Tuesday in Amsterdam. It followed weeks of intense cooperation between U.S. law enforcement agencies and eventually spread to the Netherlands earlier this month.
In early November, Massachusetts State Police arrested a 46-year-old man from the town of Milford after receiving a tip from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). During a search of his computer storage devices, some 10,000 images and videos of young children engaged in sexual acts were discovered.
The suspect in the United States was identified as Robert Didua, who has since pleaded not guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography and one count of dissemination of child pornography.
Investigators determined that the photos and videos did not appear to have been made in the United States and shared an edited image on Interpol’s secure system for international law enforcement officials in order to help identify the victim. As a result, Dutch police recognized it was of Dutch origin and received additional photos to help in the investigation.
On December 7, a picture of the boy being abused was shown on Dutch television by a local crime stopper program. This immediately led to a call from someone who recognized the child and, within hours, Mikelsons was arrested and eventually confessed to more crimes.
“The cooperation in the investigation is tremendous,” said Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. in the United States, whose office was involved in the early stages of the investigation.
It is still unclear how many children were victimized by Mikelsons, although Dutch authorities believe it could be between 30 and 53 children. The crimes were allegedly committed in the past year and a half and involved children between the ages 0 and 4.
In addition to the arrest of Mikelsons, his 37-year-old husband was also arrested on accusations of possessing child pornography. He, however, is currently not believed to have been involved in the actual abuse of any children.
Further, a third man who worked at one of the nursery schools where Mikelsons has worked was also arrested. He was arrested for allegedly attempting an ‘indecent’ online chat.
“This arrest underlines the fact that there will be no refuge for child sexual predators who believe that they pursue their perverse behavior with impunity online,” said Bruce Foucart, a special agent in charge of the ICE HSI in Boston. “Law enforcement agencies will continue to work tirelessly across jurisdictions and national boundaries to protect children anywhere in the world. I commend the collaboration of our agents and our law enforcement partners who were able to track down this child predator.”
The investigation is continuing in cooperation with Dutch and U.S. law enforcement agencies. The crime is one of the worst cases of sexual abuse in the Netherlands’ history.