José Ángel S. S., known as the “Instagram pedophile,” has been found guilty by a Spanish court of sexually abusing minors, recording sexual encounters with them, distributing child pornography and cyber-bullying nearly 100 underage victims.
He has been sentenced to an accumulated prison term of nearly 700 years for these crimes, although the maximum period he can be legally held behind bars is 30 years.
The 31-year-old, a lawyer by trade, was also a coach for teenage soccer players in a town south of Madrid. For three years, between 2015 and 2018, he was a sexual predator who had full relations with at least seven young men, according to the Madrid regional high court, which based its decision on victim testimonies, physical evidence and content found on the defendant’s computer and mobile devices.
S.S. gained his victims’ trust by posing as a young girl named Lorena. This fictitious person contacted them on Instagram and WhatsApp, promising to engage in a threesome with them. But first, they had to have sex with her friend José (who was S.S. himself).
Many of these encounters were held in his office and recorded for later distribution. When members of Spain’s Civil Guard arrested S.S., they found a large amount of child pornography on his computer hard drive and one of his cellphones.
Investigating officers dubbed the operation Kamikaze after the name of the Instagram account that S.S. used to lure victims. Many of the victims deleted the conversations from their cellphones out of shame, but investigators still managed to access hundreds of exchanges, including photographs and videos, that proved essential as evidence in court.
S.S. would send the minors photos and videos of a nude underage girl masturbating in front of the camera, and ask his victims to reciprocate with photos and videos of themselves performing similar acts, according to the court. At the trial, the defendant admitted that he had “a deviation” and asked for forgiveness.
“On many occasions, the minors downplayed the meaning and scope of what had happened, and later, once their parents found out and the facts could no longer be concealed, they managed to verbalize the experience and talk about it without feeling shame or guilt,” reads the ruling, which may be appealed.
At the time of his arrest, S.S. handed the Civil Guard two cellphones, but withheld the one that the officers were looking for. He later asked his father to hand over the third phone to avoid a police search of the family home. This phone was found to contain all his sexual videos with minors. Subsequent searches produced more child pornography on other mobile devices and on his computer, which contained 5,434 files of a pornographic nature, according to court documents.
At the hearing, S.S. claimed that he did not delete the content because he felt that he needed to be “found out and arrested to stop committing crimes.”