An administrative employee with the Edmonton Police Service has been arrested and charged with child pornography-related offences after an investigation involving police in Victoria, B.C.
An investigation was launched in February after a man engaged in sexually explicit online conversations with an undercover member of the Victoria Police Department, the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) said in a media release Tuesday morning. ALERT alleges the man attempted to arrange sex with a child.
The Victoria police determined the suspect was based in Edmonton and members of the local Internet Child Exploitation Unit were called in to assist.
“When the suspect began chatting online with the undercover operator, he was chatting with what he believed was a parent in Victoria and he was making arrangements to engage in sexual activity with what he believed was that parent’s child,” Insp. Dave Dubnyk with ALERT’s ICE Unit explained.
“I’d like to emphasis that no child was ever in danger during this investigation. However, the details of that narrative were of such a graphic nature that it constitutes a charge of making child pornography.”
While he could not provide numbers, Dubnyk said ALERT has investigated instances in Alberta “where parents have actually been involved in attempting to make arrangements to exploit their child for sexual purposes.”
On Friday, April 7, police searched a home in southeast Edmonton, seized a number of computers and electronic devices and arrested the suspect.
Aaron Rothwell, 41, is charged with agreement to commit a sexual offence against a child, making child pornography and distributing child pornography.
Rothwell worked in an administrative capacity with the EPS and did not have any interaction with the public, ALERT said.
EPS Insp. Carlos Cardoso said Rothwell was an IT specialist who worked in the service’s training centre. He has been with the EPS for about nine years and has been suspended without pay, Cardoso added.
“Clearly we’re disappointed,” Cardoso said. “There’s a strong sense of disgust. But regardless if he worked for us, or whether he worked somewhere else, we’d feel the same way. This type of behaviour is not condoned and doesn’t fall within moral values of the Edmonton Police Service.”
Rothwell was released on bail on a number of conditions. He is not allowed to possess any electronic device, to be found within 100 metres of a public facility where children may be present or to be in the company of any children.
Rothwell is scheduled to appear in court on April 26.