Child ex­ploita­tion vic­tims younger - OPP

Crimes be­com­ing more vi­o­lent

North Bay Nugget - - NORTH BAY NUGGET - By michelle mcquigge

Provin­cial po­lice say statis­tics from a sin­gle month’s worth of child ex­ploita­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tions show the is­sue re­mains a ma­jor prob­lem in On­tario and be­yond.

As part of a bid to raise aware­ness of child ex­ploita­tion, the On­tario Provin­cial Po­lice re­leased fig­ures from the month of Novem­ber.

Dur­ing that 30-day stretch, the OPP and its 26 re­gional part­ners across On­tario laid 551 charges against 122 peo­ple while iden­ti­fy­ing 55 al­leged child vic­tims and re­fer­ring them for help.

Lo­cally, the North Bay Po­lice Ser­vice has com­pleted sev­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tions in 2018 with re­gard to the posses­sion or mak­ing avail­able of child sex­ual abuse ma­te­rial, says com­mu­nity safety co-or­di­na­tor John Schultz. The most re­cent in­ves­ti­ga­tion was com­pleted on Nov. 26 when North Bay po­lice ex­e­cuted a search war­rant on a res­i­dence in the city.

Ar­rested at the res­i­dence was Wade Bent­ley, 54, who is in cus­tody pend­ing a bail hear­ing on two counts of posses­sion of child pornog­ra­phy, two counts of mak­ing avail­able child pornog­ra­phy and

two counts of ac­cess­ing child pornog­ra­phy.

OPP in­ves­ti­ga­tors say those ar­rested in­clude past and present teach­ers, emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel, mil­i­tary mem­bers and oth­ers ac­tive in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

They say of­fi­cers iden­ti­fied 834 unique IP ad­dresses ac­cess­ing child pornog­ra­phy dur­ing Novem­ber alone, de­scrib­ing that fig­ure as “the tip of the ice­berg.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tors also say any­one who ac­cesses child pornog­ra­phy on­line is com­plicit in the abuse and con­stant re-vic­tim­iza­tion of chil­dren, some of whom were as young as three.

“Some of these vic­tims are so young, they can­not re­port the crimes be­cause they have not ut­tered their first word,” OPP Insp. Tina Chalk said at a news con­fer­ence. “If you watch, dis­trib­ute or ac­cess child pornog­ra­phy, you may as well be hold­ing the hand of the of­fender who is com­mit­ting the abuse.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tors say the of­fences cov­ered by the charges laid in Novem­ber were numer­ous, cit­ing sex­ual as­sault, sex­ual in­ter­fer­ence, voyeurism and lur­ing as just a few ex­am­ples.

OPP staff sgt. sharon han­lon, co-or­di­na­tor of the Provin­cial strat­egy to Pro­tect chil­dren from sex­ual abuse and ex­ploita­tion on the In­ter­net, says the peo­ple ar­rested in Novem­ber were sim­i­larly di­verse.

They came from all walks of life in com­mu­ni­ties across the prov­ince, she says. The 122 peo­ple fac­ing charges in­clude 12 with pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions for of­fences re­lated to child sex­ual abuse ma­te­ri­als, 11 youth un­der the age of 18 and one fe­male.

“I think it’s clear that this crime crosses all de­mo­graph­ics of wealth, em­ploy­ment, so­cial sta­tus and age,” she says. “These peo­ple are our neigh­bours, rel­a­tives and friends. These are peo­ple we in­vite into our worlds be­cause we trust them.”

The OPP said it’s been tak­ing part in a co-or­di­nated provin­cial strat­egy since 2006 that has con­sis­tently seen high lev­els of child ex­ploita­tion ac­tiv­ity, though han­lon notes that in­ves­ti­ga­tors have ob­served a trend to­ward younger vic­tims and more vi­o­lent of­fences in re­cent years.

since its in­cep­tion, po­lice say the provin­cial strat­egy has re­sulted in nearly 21,000 charges against 5,686 peo­ple and res­cued 2,009 chil­dren.

schultz says det. const. buchanan of the North bay Po­lice ser­vice’s crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tions sec­tion is the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer and is as­signed many of this type of in­ves­ti­ga­tions lo­cally.

“These in­ves­ti­ga­tions are com­plex and lengthy in na­ture,” buchanan says. “Po­lice ef­forts are com­mit­ted to this type of crime, how­ever par­ents need to ed­u­cate them­selves to keep chil­dren safe and keep preda­tors out of our real and vir­tual com­mu­ni­ties.”

any­one with in­for­ma­tion that may as­sist po­lice with this type of in­ves­ti­ga­tion can con­tact the North bay Po­lice ser­vice at 705-497-5555 and select op­tion 9 to speak to a po­lice of­fi­cer. For those who wish to re­main anony­mous, con­tact Near North crime stop­pers, by call­ing 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or by sub­mit­ting a tip on­line at nearnorthcrimestop­pers.com.

With Nugget Files

OPP PHOTO

Po­lice of­fi­cials re­lease statis­tics from a sin­gle month’s worth of child ex­ploita­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tions, Wed­nes­day.

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