Birkedal acquitted of sexual assault but guilty of secret filming

A former Norwegian politician has been acquitted of sexually assaulting under-age boys, but convicted of secretly filming naked young men in his bathroom and using a false online identity to obtain naked pictures of boys.

Trond Birkedal, previously of the Progress Party and a candidate for the post of Mayor of Stavanger, was sentenced to 60 days behinds bars, 40 of which have been suspended.

He will, however, not serve any more jail time due to credit from the time he spent in custody after his arrest last year. “He had 13 days remand in custody, so then sentence is viewed as having been served in its entirety,” Judge Bjørn Enoksen-Ristesund said in court, according to NRK.

Birkedal, who was previously the head of the party’s youth wing, was accused of sexually assaulting two boys under the age of 16, but the court could find no evidence to prove the claims. He confessed, however, to rigging up hidden cameras in the bathroom and inviting young men to use his facilities, as well as assuming a false identity and encouraging young boys to send him naked pictures online.

In defence of the 31 year-old politician, a sexologist testified that Birkedal had been driven to such actions as he was finding it difficult to accept that he is gay. “Suppression of his [homosexuality] was probably the reason that he communicated under a false identity,” Judge Enoksen-Ristesund said when giving his ruling.

After the ruling, Birkedal said he was relieved to have escaped the nine-month jail term called for by the prosecution and that he hopes to move on with his life.

“It’s very serious to be convicted, but I hope this can end this case, that it makes up for what I’ve done and that I can move forward,” he told reporters. He added that his relief over his acquittal “was dampened, since I know that I have done something wrong to someone”.

Speaking to NRK, Birkedal refused to confirm whether he will return to his former job. “Today is not the day to talk about any political comeback,” he said.