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Arrest in cyberbullying suicide probe

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Arrest in cyberbullying suicide probe
10:10 CET+01:00
Police have arrested a 45-year-old man on suspicions of sex crimes in connection with their investigation into a case of cyberbullying that police suspect drove a 13-year-old girl to commit suicide.

The man was arrested on Wednesday afternoon near Gothenburg on suspicion of sexual abuse and forcing two 13-year-old girls to pose sexually.

One of the girls was the same 13-year-old girl who was killed after stepping in front of a passing train in Kumla in central Sweden last week.

Police in Örebro have released the man's online alias, bealarsson97, in hopes of identifying more potential victims.

"We believe there are more plaintiffs. There may be quite a few," Örebro County police spokesman Mats Nylén told the TT news agency.

Police suspect other children who were targeted by the 45-year-old may recognize the alias, which he used on the internet chat service Skype and are encouraging them to contact police in Örebro.

Police remain tight-lipped about exactly what happened to the two girls.

"What I can say is that the man is suspected of having published films on the internet that caused problems for those affected," said Nylén.

The 45-year-old suspect, who is being held in Örebro while investigators continue to gather evidence, denies committing any crime.

According to the Aftonbladet newspaper, the man coaches girls' football and is associated with a well-known sports club.

Using his online alias, the man has presented himself as a teenage boy born in 1997 and then proceeded to harass the 13-year-old girl on different chat sites and blogs.

After a moderator on one site broke off the 45-year-old's contact with the young girl, he encouraged her to move to Skype where he allegedly convinced the girl to pose in the nude, according to Aftonbladet.

He then threatened to publish the images online.

Shortly after the girl's death last Friday, police began to suspect she had committed suicide due to the threat of compromising images being published online.

"What's happened to this 13-year-old girl is tragically enough an alarm bell that shows how bad it can get," said Nylén.

The girl's father alerted officials at her school about the online harassment last autumn, but no action was taken.

"Everyone knew about it but nobody did anything. The teachers turned a blind eye. They should have supported her more," a friend of the deceased girl told the Nerikes Allehande newspaper (NA).

Sweden's Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) plans to launch an investigation into the school and its procedures for dealing with bullying.

A spokesperson from the agency said that there has been a "lack of leadership" at the school for years.

TT/The Local/dl

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