Social worker pleads guilty to multiple sexual offences

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File: A woman who was raped rests her hands on her bedsheets at a hospital in Goma. Women and girls in eastern Congo's North Kivu province are once again suffering increasing levels of sexual violence amid renewed conflict.

BLOEMFONTEIN - A Bloemfontein social worker has pleaded guilty to numerous sexual offences, committed against children he was tasked to work with on Friday at the Bloemfontein Sexual Offences Court.

Former senior social worker Adriaan de Plessis entered into a plea agreement for the 168 charges against him. These included sexual assault, sexual grooming as well as the possession and distribution of child pornography.

According to Du Plessis&39; plea agreement, the offences started in 2012, when he was an investigator into alleged sexual abuses at Jimmy Roos School outside Dewetsdorp.

He met a 15 year old boy, with whom he struck up a friendship, and at some stage even wanted to adopt.

Plans to adopt were dismissed after his wife - also a social worker - advised him to keep his distance due to ethical implications of the situation. It later emerged Du Plessis had been trading images of child pornography with the child throughout their friendship.

The situation came to a head in February 2013, when Du Plessis&39; wife discovered child pornography images on an SD card he had used. She reported the images to the police and an investigation ensued. Police confiscated his laptops and cellular phones.

Forensic analyisis revealed a total of 145 images of child pornography on these items. He had also been trading child pornongraphy on the Mxit social network, under various profiles.

Investigations further revealed that Du Plessis had sexually abused another young boy at the One Stop Centre. The 13 year old boy was assigned to him in 2010, and during their therapy sessions, Du Plessis made him strip down to his underwear and sexually molested him, while asking questions about his emotional wellbeing.

Following his arrest early last year, Du Plessis lost his job, and action is underway to have him struck off the board of social workers.

The details of his plea agreement has seen him being sentenced to a total of 20 years in prison for the various charges. These have all been suspended for five years.