09:37 GMT19 January 2021
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    A South Korean court has found the mastermind of one of the country's biggest online porn abuse rings guilty. The criminal lured his victims over a period of nine months, starting in spring 2019. He later declared himself to be a "devil", admitting his guilt.

    Cho Ju-bin, aged 25, has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for blackmailing at least 74 women, including 16 teenagers, into filming sexually explicit videos that were then shared in secret chat rooms on Telegram where users paid to view the content. 

    “The accused has widely distributed sexually abusive content that he created by luring and threatening many victims,” the Seoul Central District Court declared Thursday, as the Yonhap news agency reported.

    In sentencing Cho, the Court said the criminal needed to be “isolated from society for an extended period”. He is also obliged to wear an electronic bracelet for 30 years and pay a penalty of 100 million won (about $90,000).

    ​At least 10,000 users visited the chat room, which could cost as much as $1,200 for access.

    “The defendant lured and threatened a large number of victims into producing sexually degrading videos and raised a lot of money through distributing them to many people over an extended period,” the court added. “In particular, he inflicted irreparable damage by releasing the identities of many victims.”

    Over 2 million South Korean citizens have signed a petition demanding the names of everyone who viewed the content of the chatroom to be publically announced.

    “At the time, I was hardly concerned about human dignity and I just used people and sex as tool for crimes,” Cho told prosecutors, as quoted by the WaPo. “Now I declare an end to my life as a devil.”

    Police said that along with Cho, at least 124 suspects were also arrested and 18 chat operators on Telegram and other social networks were detained after investigating similar sex crimes since late last year, according to Reuters.

    Tags:
    scandal, Abuse, South Korea
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