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Wave of outrage hits Swedish community

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10:27 CET+01:00
Public outrage continues to build against a small community in northern Sweden after revelations by Sveriges Television (SVT) that a 14-year-old girl was raped and then driven out of town amid an internet smear campaign.

Almost 100,000 people have joined a Facebook group called "She was raped at school – the boy was glorified" ("Hon våldtogs på skolan – pojken hyllades"), reports Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper. Contact information for the 15-year-old convicted rapist's family members has also been published online.

But despite the massive attention given to the SVT film broadcast on its Uppdrag Granskning programme on Wednesday, the boy's mother continues to maintain his innocence. The family has received thousands of threats by email and telephone since the programme aired.

The girl, referred to as 'Linnea', reported the attack to Örnsköldsvik police in March 2009. The boy initially denied the rape before eventually admitting his guilt during police interviews.

After news of the rape and the police report emerged, a campaign began which divided the community - with many of the girl's and boy's friends, school teachers, and parents questioning the validity of Linnea's story.

The Church of Sweden pastor who allowed the 15-year-old boy to attend his female victim's awards ceremony at his church has also now said he would like to extend an apology to the 14-year-old girl.

Pastor Lennart Kempe, who allowed the boy to attend the awards ceremony at the church despite a restraining order preventing him from going near Linnea, has said he will reach out to her and offer an apology.

"I haven't done it yet, since this has just occurred in the last few days, and I have had double funerals to take care of. But I will obviously get in touch and apologize," Kempe told TT news agency.

Kempe's actions have also been reported to the diocesan board in Härnösand. But he remains non-plussed.

"I'm not worried about that, because I don't think the issue has to do with me but with the girl and how we learn to view and take care of each other, so quite honestly I don't care at all about the report. As long as I know that I'm doing the right thing it doesn't matter," he said.

Before the church board makes a decision on any measures to be taken against Kempe, it will undertake an investigation of the events surrounding the rape of the girl.

Kempe said he will remain in active service at the church during the investigation.

The pastor has previously explained his decision to allow the boy to participate in the ceremony.

"The church is open for all. There was an enormous demonstration. He had flowers with him... I thought it very courageous of him to have the strength to come here and do that," Kempe told SVT.

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