Teacher fac­ing child porn charges in court

Lethbridge Herald - - HOMETOWN NEWS - Fol­low @DelonHer­ald on Twit­ter Delon Shurtz dshurtz@leth­bridge­herald.com

A Brocket el­e­men­tary school teacher fac­ing child pornog­ra­phy charges made his first court ap­pear­ance Tues­day in Pincher Creek.

Mark An­der­son ap­peared in per­son but sim­ply ad­journed his case for a month. Duty coun­sel, who as­sisted An­der­son dur­ing the brief hear­ing, told court the ac­cused still needs time to hire a lawyer.

An­der­son, 44, of Pincher Creek, is charged with pos­sess­ing, ac­cess­ing and dis­tribut­ing child pornog­ra­phy. He was ar­rested Jan. 11 fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Al­berta Law En­force­ment Re­sponse Team In­ter­net Child Ex­ploita­tion Unit with help from Pincher Creek RCMP, Pi­ikani Na­tion RCMP and Leth­bridge Po­lice Ser­vice.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan in July 2017 when ICE re­ceived a re­fer­ral from the Na­tional Cen­tre for Miss­ing and Ex­ploited Chil­dren con­cern­ing a so­cial me­dia user up­load­ing child sex­ual ex­ploita­tion ma­te­rial. Po­lice re­ported fol­low­ing An­der­son’s ar­rest that none of the images ap­peared to have orig­i­nated in south­ern Al­berta.

An­der­son was in­volved in var­i­ous youth-ori­ented com­mu­nity pro­grams on the Pi­ikani Na­tion Re­serve, in­clud­ing mi­nor sports and Scouts Canada. He was also teach­ing at Napi's Play­ground El­e­men­tary School, but was sus­pended from teach­ing and barred from Peigan board of ed­u­ca­tion prop­erty.

"The safety and well-be­ing of our Pi­ikani Na­tion stu­dents and chil­dren is our high­est pri­or­ity," states a news re­lease is­sued by the board Jan. 15.

“PBOE wishes to as­sure par­ents, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties that we are, and will be dili­gent in, keep­ing our Pi­ikani chil­dren thriv­ing while at­tend­ing our schools."

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