Official busted in alleged pedophile ring

July 21, 2011 at 8:27 AM

MOSCOW, July 21 (UPI) -- Moscow police have arrested a Russian pension fund official on charges of sexual abuse of children.

Police arrested the unnamed official Thursday, saying he organized a criminal gang involved in child prostitution and that he allegedly had sex with young girls recruited over social networking sites, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Members of the group allegedly contacted underage girls over the Internet and offered them money to participate in pornographic videos. More than 30 girls reportedly signed up.

"The 41-year-old official also had sex with the girls, although he was aware that they were underage," a police spokesperson said.

Searches Thursday at the suspect's pension fund office in southwestern Moscow reportedly revealed the names of some of the alleged victims.

Police said the suspect made a considerable amount of money through the alleged ring.

The suspect is known to have purchased three exclusive properties near Moscow, two apartments and three expensive cars, the report said. If convicted, he could be sentenced to eight years in prison.

Children's rights activists have suggested a "pedophile lobby" exists in the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament.

Pavel Astakhov, Russia's ombudsmen for children's rights, said the alleged lobby might be responsible for blocking legislation to help combat the sexual abuse of minors.

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