Norway Allows Convicted Child Porn Addict to Keep Custody of Kids While Separating Loving Families

(Photo: Reuters)Undated file photo shows the Norwegian flag.

A trusted Norwegian government child health expert convicted for downloading child pornography has been allowed to keep custody of his children while many other families in Norway are separated for highly discretionary reasons.

BBC aired a program last Saturday that extensively reviewed the cases of two Norwegian mothers whose children have been taken away thanks in part to questionable recommendations from a now "disgraced" child psychiatrist who admitted to a court in April that he downloaded heinous child pornography for over 20 years.

As part of BBC's "Our World" series, journalist Tim Whewell traveled to Norway to speak with the mothers about their cases. Whewell also spoke with health experts with immense knowledge of Norway's child services system, which has been scrutinized by critics globally for being too quick to remove children from their parents and putting them in foster care.

The Christian Post has previously reported on several families who have had their children removed from the home by Norway's controversial child protection services after questionable recommendations from health experts. Such reasons have included spankings (banned in Norway), unproven allegations of sexual abuse, withdrawing children out of school in order to homeschool or minor weight issues.

The two mothers highlighted in the documentary — Inez and Cecilie — have both suffered from extreme emotional turmoil of having their children separated from them for years.

Both were shocked by the quick abrasive action that the government took against their families, actions that were recommended by the disgraced psychiatrist who at the same time was going home to download images and video of abused children.

BBC chose not to reveal the name of the psychiatrist in question. However, a source noted in the documentary that the psychiatrist revealed in court that he was downloading porn that mostly featured 10- to 14-year-old kids. Some of the porn the psychiatrist downloaded featured babies, the source added.

"There was young boys having oral sex on each other and on grown-up men," family rights campaigner Rune Fardal told BBC. "There was rape. There was disabled children. Every fantasy you can think of in a bad way was explained there.

In all, the psychiatrist had downloaded over 200,000 illegal images and over 4,000 hours of illegal video.

According to BBC, the psychiatrist served on Norway's supervisory Child Expert Commission and has played a hands-on role in ensuring the removal of children that he and others on the commission deemed to be in danger living in their parents' home.

After being convicted in court, the psychiatrist was sentenced to nearly two years in prison. But what sticks out to those parents who lost their children because of the psychiatrist's recommendations is the fact that authorities are allowing him to keep custody of his two babies when he is released from jail.

"That expert, he is the one responsible for taking my daughter away and then it turns out that he has himself has committed crimes against children," Cecelie, who lives in Oslo, told BBC. "I think what has happened is wrong. It has had very grave consequences on my life.'"

As for Cecilie, authorities removed her daughter from the home years ago because of prolonged worry about the girl's development and concern that Cecelie was neglecting her daughter. Cecelie rejected the conclusion from health experts, including the disgraced psychiatrist, that the child's potential development would be limited if she stayed in the home.

(Screenshot: YouTube/BBC Newsnight)Norwegian mother named Cecelie speaks with BBC in the "Our World" documentary titled "Norway's Silent Scandal" that aired on Aug. 4, 2018.

The disgraced male health expert and a female psychologist visited Cecelie's home.

"When they came, I let my daughter open the door," Cecelie recalled. "My daughter, I think she said she was hungry. She said she wanted something to eat. But I had decided that I would cook a meal later after the experts had left my house. So I just offered her [a chocolate cereal bar.] Then, the expert, he wrote in the report that probably I am only giving her these chocolate cereal bars all the time, for every meal, and that I don't know how to cook anything."

The exaggerated claims didn't end there. Cecelie said the female psychologist looked intently at the ceiling to find a cobweb and then wrote in the report that the house was messy and not clean enough for their standards.

"It was distortion," Cecelie said, adding that she didn't even see the report against her until after the emergency care order was issued.

"Then, I realized that the report was very negative, that the recommendation was that my daughter had to be taken immediately," she said.

Cecelie's daughter was brought to emergency foster care and a district court signed off on the care order. The daughter has not been returned since.

As for Inez, a mother of eight children, she had her four youngest children removed from the home in September 2013 after it was reported that there was abuse in her home. Inez admits that she smacked one of her children but only to get him to stop biting one of her other kids.

(Screenshot: YouTube/BBC Newsnight)A Norwegian mother named Inez speaks with BBC in the "Our World" documentary titled "Norway's Silent Scandal" that aired on Aug. 4, 2018.

"I got a phone call from someone telling me that I have to come home. The Barnevernet (Norway's CPS) has taken the children and my husband has been arrested," she recalled. "It was so absurd. Obviously, it was a mistake. Then when I came there, they said I was arrested. When the door to the cell was closed, that is when I realized what it meant. It was so strange to find myself in a cell. I just remember being so scared because this was madness. What is this? What is happening in our country?"

Inez and her husband were released from jail and Inez was later acquitted in criminal court in 2016. Two of her children were released but the two youngest children were still kept in government custody. Inez sought the help of lawyer Victoria Holman who saw a flaw in the government's case against her client.

"The problem was every question [asked by the agents to the children] was a leading question," Holman said. "When you analyzed the reports, if you [were] counting up how many times did they say that my mother was violent against me, zero."

BBC notes that Inez's case was even reviewed by respected Norwegian psychologists who praised her parenting abilities in a report. The report stated: "We find it impossible to believe that so carefree, positive and undisruptive children can come from the home described in the accounts that form the basis of the child protection and police actions."

Yet, the conclusion of that report was disregarded by Norway's Child Expert Commission, which included the disgraced psychiatrist. The commission argued that the psychologists' report was biased in favor of the parents. BBC later interviewed one of the authors of the report, Radar Herman, Norway's former child ombudsman.

"I was quite angry," Herman said of the commission's questioning of his report.

After five years, authorities have finally told Inez that she can regain custody of her two youngest and she hopes that they will be returned soon.

But for the other parents whose cases have been handled by the disgraced psychologist, BBC reports that "there are no plans for a full review of the child protection's decisions that he was involved in."

Whewell notes that the expert commission says it has looked through the disgraced psychiatrist's reports and has found "no reason for concern." Norway's child protection agency refused to comment for the documentary.

"I can remember my daughter as a very happy child. She was very smiling and happy," Cecelie said. "She was living. I could never have imagined that this could happen to someone like me at all. I had a very good relationship with my daughter and I did. I will never really get her back."

Family rights advocates and parents continue to push for reform for Norway's child services system. And some international activists are pointing out a seeming double standard in the system.

"Norway's Child Welfare System, Barnevernet, will be gift wrapping the children back to the now disgraced pedophile psychiatrist when he leaves prison. Some say with good behaviour, he could be out in the not-so-distant future," Steven Bennett from the Vienna-based organization Step Up 4 Children's Rights said in a statement. "The message that Norway is sending the rest of the world is that those people who openly support for entertainment purposes the sexual abuse of children, get to keep their children and that good and able parents can have their children abducted at any time."

Some argue that just because someone is convicted on child porn charges doesn't mean they aren't able parents. Thore Langfeldt, a top Norwegian sexologist, told BBC that data shows that "only a little part of those who are downloading pictures of children are really offending children."

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