Court convicts Peeter Helme of attempted sexual enticement of minor

The Harju County Court on Monday (November 30) found writer Peeter Helme guilty of an of an impossible attempt at sexual enticement of a child and handed to him conditional jail sentence.

The court punished Helme, 42, with a suspended sentence of one year, three months and 28 days in prison with a two-year probation period.

Helme said that he will appeal the verdict with the circuit court.

During the summations in September, prosecutor Andra Sild said that Helme's guilt has been proven and that a conditional jail sentence of one year and six months along with a two-year probation period must be handed out to him.

The attorney for the defense, Raul Ainla, sought his client to be acquitted on the grounds that the statement of charges was incomplete and misleading.

Specifically, according to the attorney, the necessary subjective elements of a criminal offense were absent in that the accused had had no possibility to conclusively ascertain that the person he was communicating with was younger than 14. According to the own knowledge of the accused, he was communicating with an adult, which subsequently proved to be the case, the attorney said. 

Ainla said that also the objective necessary elements of a criminal offense were absent in Helme's actions, as the conversation was abstract in the sense that Helme did not entice the partner in the conversation to engage in sexual activities with him or to meet with him. 

"Provoking Helme was not acceptable, as before the criminal proceeding was opened there was no information whatsoever to the effect of his having committed something unlawful. Both the European Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Court have deemed such activity not acceptable," the attorney said. 

Helme did not admit his guilt in the sexual enticement of a child, saying that when chatting in an adult chat room he was convinced that he was talking to an adult person.  

"For me, this was a virtual game, not different from the online computer games which I also play. When chatting in the chat room, I was absolutely convinced that I was chatting with an adult who was also playing a role game - and I was right, as it came out later that it was a police officer," Helme said.

The police briefly detained Helme, former editor-in-chief of Postimees, in December of last year but the prosecutor's office did not deem his arrest as necessary. 

According to the charges, Helme sexually enticed a person posing as a girl by the name of Marleen, aged 12, in the online chat room "Armastuse saal" ("Hall of Love") from October 8-10 last year. The person behind said account with "Armastuse saal" actually was a police agent.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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