Two policemen in Taiwan are being investigated after a court convicted a man of sexually assaulting a teenage girl they used to help catch him.
The 13-year-old went to police after the man she met on an app tried to blackmail her into having sex with him.
Police instead sent her on a sting operation to catch the man, who had threatened to release her nude photos.
The two officers who shadowed her face negligence charges. Police apologised for failing to protect the girl.
The botched undercover operation took place in the north-western city of Taoyuan in November 2020, after the teenager went to police and agreed to help catch the man who was threatening her.
But her assault only came to light during the trial, when she told Taoyuan District Court what her attacker had done to her, a police spokesperson said. The man, surnamed Chang, was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to eight years in prison.
The two officers from Zhongli precinct are being investigated for various breaches including neglect of duty as public officials, local media reported.
There is currently no law governing whether the police can recruit minors to go undercover in investigations, Taoyuan-based lawyer Fan Kang-hsiang told news website Focus Taiwan
But under Taiwan’s Civil Code, those who intentionally or negligently infringe upon the rights of others could be sued for damages.
Chang offered the girl NT$5,000 ($159; £120) and threatened to share her nude pictures on the internet if she did not comply with his requests, reports said, quoting court documents.
When she reported the matter to police in Taoyuan city, the girl was recruited to be part of a sting to expose Chang. She agreed because she was assured of her safety, reports said.
She then agreed to meet Chang at a McDonald’s outlet. Against the officers’ instructions, police say she “suddenly” got into Chang’s car. He drove her just 300m away and forced her to perform oral sex. She complied out of fear, reports said.
The two policemen gave chase on foot but could not catch up with his car, a police spokesperson said. Chang was arrested after he drove back to the restaurant.
The two officers are now being assigned only administrative police duties while the investigation is carried out.
Two higher-ranking officers, including the then-chief of the precinct’s police department and the then-chief of investigation, have also been disciplined.