Youth worker with ties to Alberta, Saskatchewan charged with child luring, child pornography

Click to play video: 'Alberta youth worker arrested for child exploitation'
Alberta youth worker arrested for child exploitation
A 28-year-old youth worker, Abraham Woo, has been arrested in Edmonton, charged with luring and making child pornography. Sarah Ryan reports. – Feb 22, 2024

A 28-year-old man who worked in youth facilities in both Alberta and Saskatchewan has been charged with several child pornography-related offences. And law enforcement officials believe there may be more victims.

In a news release Thursday morning, the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) said its internet child exploitation (ICE) unit arrested the man on Feb. 2 with help from the Edmonton Police Service.

ICE alleges the accused was involved in luring at least one child online whom he previously knew through his work with Pasqua First Nation in southern Saskatchewan. The offences allegedly took place over the social media platforms Snapchat and Facebook.

Staff Sgt. Jon Morrison with ALERT said he believes it was the child’s parents who initially contacted the RCMP.

“The known victim, all I can say is it is a male victim. Other victims are yet to be identified,” Morrison said, adding the victim is receiving support services.

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Click to play video: 'Youth worker with ties to Alberta, Saskatchewan charged with child luring, child pornography'
Youth worker with ties to Alberta, Saskatchewan charged with child luring, child pornography

The ICE team in Saskatchewan was first notified of the offences in January 2024. ALERT said they were associated with an investigation by Fort Qu’Appelle Saskatchewan RCMP.

A forensic exam was done on computers and electronic devices seized from the accused’s home. ALERT said “amongst child sexual abuse materials, ICE identifies photos that appear to have been taken in a locker-room facility.”

“It’s not a small quantity,” Morrison said of the child sexual abuse material found on the devices.

ALERT released censored versions of the photos Thursday, in hopes the public can help identify the location or the possible child victim.

ALERT said the accused has worked as a youth worker, or had access to children through his employment at the following facilities in Saskatchewan and Alberta:

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  • Pasqua First Nation Education: youth worker and education assistant
  • Edmonton Bent Arrow Society: lodge keeper
  • Shadow Dragon Youth Group Home: group home staff member
  • Leduc Boys and Girls Club: youth programs co-ordinator
  • Pa Metawe Games: youth camps
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Morrison said police have been in contact with the agencies, all of which are cooperating with the investigation.

“The concern obviously being he would have had access to children.”

Abraham Woo has been charged with child luring, making child pornography, possession of child pornography and distributing child pornography.

ALERT said Woo has been known to use the aliases Abraham Calling Bear Woo and Abraham Collingwood. His Snapchat handle is WolfBoy22.

The chief of Pasqua First Nation said he learned of the charges through news reports.

“Our first response was shock,” Matthew Peigan said. “When I read that, it made me start to think about: is there other victims?”

Peigan said Woo worked with youth as an education assistant in a classroom setting. He also worked at the youth centre with two or three other colleagues, setting up youth programming and activities. Peigan believes Woo worked there about four to six years ago.

“It’s children 17 and under and they had different programming. When he worked in the school, I believe it was at both our elementary and our high school, and at our youth centre,” Peigan said.

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“Whenever you do a posting of a position in our case, when we’re working with our youth, we require a criminal record check with a vulnerable sector. And if those clear, we proceed forward,” he said. “There were no criminal records.”

Peigan encourages any other potential victims to come forward, and said in-school therapists are available to anyone who needs support.

“It’s important that people hear about these charges, that if they’re a victim that yes, they should come forward.”

In a statement, Jenna Drover with the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society in Edmonton said Woo was employed as a lodge keeper for a brief time of three months, five years ago.

“Since his departure, he has not been associated with our organization in any capacity,” Drover said. “The safety and well-being of those we serve remains our utmost priority, and we support law enforcement authorities in their investigation.”

Global News reached out to Alta Care regarding Woo’s alleged involvement with Alta Care’s Shadow Dragon Youth Group Home but has yet to receive a response.

Boys and Girls Clubs confirmed that Woo is a former BGC Leduc employee who worked at BGC Leduc for approximately four months, ending in November 2019.

“We are aware of the police investigation and have co-operated with the authorities. We have also confirmed the images shown in the media alert are not from a BGC location,” said Natalie Paul with BGC Canada.

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“BGC Leduc follows BGC Canada’s Operating Standards, which set clear guidelines for interactions between staff and club members. There is a minimum of two trained staff and/or volunteers on site during all programming.

“BGC Clubs across Canada also have policies and procedures in place for child protection and screening requirements. We provide safe environments for all club members, with all policies and procedures adhering to provincial legislation.”

In a post on Facebook, Pa Metawe Games said Woo worked at the game store for the last two months of 2020 and then again from April 2021 to January 2022.

“He was involved in our youth workshop programming during this period but this was not a primary focus of his employment with Pe Metawe Games,” the post read.

“Although we have never run youth workshops with fewer than two adults present, we encourage every parent to speak with their children. Our primary focus has and continues to be the safety of our community and we deeply regret any potential exposure any of our community members might have had that exposed them to risk. We recognize our role in being proactive in continuing to prioritize the safety of protecting our community.”

Morrison said it’s important for parents to be involved in their children’s online activity, be aware of what their children are doing online and keep communication open so that if something bad happens, the child feels comfortable talking to their parents about it.

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“As parents, it’s really difficult to be as up to date and knowledgeable on social media apps and the internet as your kids nowadays,” Morrison said.

“This is what these types of offenders do and they’re very good at it and there is an innate power imbalance between kids and adults, and online is full of people that are preying on children, predatory activity and they’re looking to take that traditional back alley — dark back alley in a physical sense — and they’re moving it into a virtual world.”

Woo was released from custody and is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 28.

Anyone with information about this investigation is asked to contact their local police department or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-222-8477.

“There’s a strong indication there could be other victims,” Morrison said.

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