21 April 2004
KOBLENZ – A couple in Germany have admitted putting their eight-year-old daughter up for auction on eBay, but claim it was all “just for fun”, investigators said.
While the family in the Westerwald region of the Rhineland insisted they had no intention of going through with the auction, police got a warrant to search houses of them and friends and relatives for evidence of child sexual abuse or other criminal wrongdoing.
The listing on eBay’s German website last Saturday showed a picture of the girl over such item descriptions as “fully pose-able” and “you can play with her”.
More than 100 hits were registered on the internet auction listing before it was taken off a few hours later.
The 35-year-old father insisted no harm was intended.
“It was all just for fun,” he was quoted as saying in Wednesday’s B.Z. newspaper. “We thought it would be funny. We sat her down in the kitchen and took her picture and then posted a bogus listing on eBay,” he said.
The man and the 41-year-old mother of the child could now face criminal charges, possibly even if it is ultimately determined that the whole thing was only a joke. The parents live separately.
Investigators said Tuesday’s house searches resulted in the confiscation of two computers and a number of undisclosed documents.
Police say the internet auction listing stipulated that bidding begin at EUR one. Three bids allegedly were registered, with the final one at EUR 25.50.
The German division of eBay issued a statement Tuesday denouncing the parents’ listing as “utterly tasteless” and said it was also considering punitive action.
“We condemn any attempt to use our online marketplace for illicit activities,” the eBay statement said.
“We will cooperate with authorities in getting to the bottom of this utterly tasteless affair and are looking into legal avenues of recourse.”
Subject: German news