ATHENS – In allegations that brought forth shock, outrage, and disgust, a 53-year-old Greek shopkeeper was charged with the rape and pimping out of a 12-year-old girl, with her mother’s consent.
While Greek privacy laws generally prohibit naming suspects, prosecutors lifted that in this case and he was identified as Elias Michos, a member of the ruling New Democracy, which immediately ousted him.
Her mother was also charged, and media reports said that the investigation is spreading, with the arrest of a 42-year-old man, Giannis Sofianidis, who was said to have been having sex with the girl when police arrived.
The woman is being held at the General Police Directorate of Attica on the charge of aggravated pimping, the state-run Athens-Macedonia news agency AMNA reported.
(Read also: Theodorikakos on Kolonos Child Abuse Case: “The Law Is the Law and Applies to Everyone” )
Michos and Sofianidis were taken to jail after testifying before an investigative magistrate, denying they raped the girl and reportedly defending their actions as having “sexual relations” with the girl although Michos also denied everything.
Michos was also charged with human trafficking and illegal weapons possession and it began to emerge that among other alleged rapists were people in prominent positions from different sectors.
Reports said that Michos got the attention online from 213 men who expressed interest in having sex with the girl and that he set up sessions and allegedly photographed and took videos of what happened and posted them on porn sites, using fake profiles he set up.
Michos, said friends and neighbors, was a “good and religious family man” who owned a mini-market in the working-class western Athens neighborhood of Kolonos and was a church chanter.
The girl, media reports added as the story exploded in the news, was in an underprivileged family of eight and that her mother worked in Michos’ store and that the girl helped out there.
The girl’s aunt reportedly discovered that her niece was being sexually abused and forced to have sex with men after she realized the girl was getting extremely anxious whenever she would receive text messages.
According to local media and Alpha TV, the aunt took the phone off the girl and told the mother who immediately turned the evidence over to police and filed a complaint, although it wasn’t said why if she was allegedly complicit.
SHE WAS TOO YOUNG
State broadcaster ERT said the girl’s testimony led police to finding evidence inside the store showing Michos threatening her with a weapon to force her to submit to sex.
She was said to have told police that at least 10 men raped her and after they were done some told her to “be careful, you are too young,” after finding out she was 12 and not 16 as the luring ads were said to have claimed.
Michos would allegedly charge 50-70 euros ($48-$60) per “session” with some meet-ups going for 100 euros ($97) and that he pocketed everything.
The sex appointments would take place near the metro station of Sepolia in western Athens and the girl would be sexually abused inside the cars of the ‘clients’ or in rooms nearby that she didn’t know.
Michos, who denied any wrongdoing, often posted pictures of himself chanting in church on Facebook, pictures of him hugging members of the clergy and prominent New Democracy politicians and actors, presenting himself as a supporter of the arts although having only a mini-market.
He said the girl had sent him videos and photos to frame him, said SKAI TV. Before she was arrested, the girl’s mother said she was outraged and threatened to kill him if he gets released, said Alpha TV.
“He and the others lined up to abuse this 12-year-old child. It is the obligation of the state, within the legal limits that it has – a matter of the honour for our legal culture – to make public the names of those that sought to line up to rape a 12-year-old girl,” government spokesperson Yiannis Economou told ANT1 TV.
“I am aware that our legal system is obliged to follow the rules, but Greek society should know who these people are who walk among us. We are talking about a shocking case, which the Greek police have brought to light. I am absolutely certain that everything will be fully clarified…” he added.
“With the change in the penal code, under conditions, if he is found guilty, he can get up to a life sentence. He was one of the members of New Democracy, he stopped being one as soon as it was made public,” said Economou.
He also suggested that the names of the 213 people who are alleged to have expressed interest in having sex with the girl should be revealed too.