November arrests show prevalence of online child sexual abuse in Ontario

Numerous charges have been laid across Ontario, in what police are calling a snapshot of one month’s worth of work by Internet Child Exploitation Investigators that make up the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet.

At a media conference yesterday in Vaughan, Ontario Provincial Police along with 26 police agencies of the Provincial Strategy announced the results of investigations during the month of November across the entire province of Ontario.

‘The Chatham-Kent Police Service is fully committed to the Provincial Strategy.  These offences are not just photographs and videos, they are real children in highly abusive situations.  The members in our Internet Child Exploitation Unit (ICE) are specifically trained and dedicated to investigating these types of offences against children.  We have and will continue our efforts to protect children and identify those responsible for their exploitation,” said Detective Steve Kloostra, ICE Unit Supervisor, Chatham-Kent Police Service.

Police say a total of 267 judicial authorizations were obtained, resulting in 551 charges against 122 persons, including 11 youth who cannot be identified under terms of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Charges include: Sexual Assault, Sexual Interference, Invitation to Sexual Touching, Possession of Child Pornography, Make Available Child Pornography, Distribution of Child Pornography, Making Child Pornography, Accessing Child Pornography, Luring, Making Sexually Explicit Material Available to a Child.

In addition, 55 victims were identified during the investigations and referred to appropriate community-based resources for assistance. Police also seized a total of 17 firearms three of which were loaded handguns.

Additional partners that participated in these investigations included RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, The FBI and United States Homeland Security Investigations. Representatives of BOOST Child and Youth Advocacy Centre and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (CCCP) were also on hand to advocate for more services for identified victims of exploitation and to enhance awareness to prevent further harm and victimization.

Police displayed a video showing 834 unique IP addresses associated to the possession or making available of child sexual abuse material or were present on a suspected child pornography website. These IP addresses were observed over the month of November alone. Police describe these numbers as the “tip of the iceberg” in relation to online child sexual exploitation in Ontario.

From its inception in August 2006, the entire Provincial Strategy has completed 50,403 investigations and laid 20,901 charges against 5,686 people. During that period, 2,009 child victims have been identified in Ontario and beyond.

Here locally, the Chatham-Kent Police Service executed a warrant at a residence in Chatham on November 7th.  Fifteen devices were seized for analysis.  A 26-year-old man was charged with possession of child pornography, accessing child pornography and distributing child pornography.  A 25-year-old man was charged with possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography.  They were released pending a future court date of December 11th.

The Provincial Strategy promotes information and resource-sharing across our Province, Nation, and Worldwide, for the ultimate goal of protecting children. On November 27th, the Chatham-Kent Police Service also assisted the Sarnia Police Service in the execution of a search warrant in their community.  With the aid of local police investigative tools, numerous electronic devices were triaged on-site, reducing unnecessary seizure which can overwhelm storage resources.

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