Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sex Slaves: The Psychology of Mastery

The Entrepreneur

Marc Dutroux
Marc Dutroux

From the mid-1980s until he was caught in 1996, Marc Dutroux developed an international child pornography and prostitution ring in Charleroi, Belgium, supporting his second wife and three children by kidnapping young girls and selling them to wealthy customers around Europe. He was able to amass quite a fortune, and when he did get arrested for various offenses, the authorities were quite lenient.

In 1989, he was convicted in the rape of five young girls, but after only three years in prison, he received an early release — with a pension! Soon more young girls disappeared. As it turned out, he kept them imprisoned in empty houses that he owned, and though police actually searched one, they failed to find his secret dungeon.

All this changed in 1996 when police raided Dutroux's home. They found 300 pornographic videos of children, and this time they located the concrete dungeon. Inside were two girls, 12 and one 14, and they'd both been sexually abused. With an accomplice, Dutroux had grabbed them off the streets, drugged them, thrown them into his dungeon, and forced to them pose for his films. One girl had been there for over two months. Both they were the lucky ones.

Two other girls, both eight, had died while imprisoned, starving to death when Dutroux was incarcerated for a month for car theft. (His wife had apparently ignored them entirely, later claiming she'd been frightened of them.) Upon his release, Dutroux had buried the corpses in his backyard. He also buried an accomplice, still alive, as punishment for letting the girls — his source of income — starve.

Then there were two other girls, 19 and 17, who had turned up missing and who were linked to Dutroux. The police found them buried under concrete in a shed next to one of Dutroux's houses.

During the investigation into these five deaths and the multiple kidnappings, police discovered a sex ring, which included Dutroux's second wife and a businessman who had entertained government officials at an orgy. Thus, Dutroux's sex slaves had not been for his own benefit so much as for others. As a slave master, he was enriching himself rather than merely gratifying himself.

At trial, one of his surviving victims described her ordeal of rape and starvation, although there was testimony that two of the captives, including this one, had kissed Dutroux as they were led from their prison. The prosecutor indicated that this had been due to their extreme conditioning while held captive in uncertain conditions.

Dutroux claimed he was a scapegoat, a mere cog in a larger machine, and he blamed his wife for the deaths of the two girls who had starved. In 2004, he was convicted of two counts or murder, four counts of kidnapping, and two counts or rape. His confederates received lesser sentences or no charges at all.

Although many captors prefer to work along, thereby ensuring secrecy, it's not unusual to find couples participating in sexual slavery together. Many of them resort to murder as well.

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