WARNING: This story contains graphic content. Discretion is advised.
Police have laid charges against a Calgary woman after an alleged case of child abuse was livestreamed on the online gaming website Twitch.
“The video showed a woman playing a game while roughly handling her young children,” police said in a Wednesday news release. “The woman is alleged to have slapped, pushed and bitten her 14-month-old son during the course of the video.”
Police said they received multiple tips from the public on Tuesday and traced the online persona to a Calgary home where a woman, man and two children were living.
“The woman was arrested and the children were taken to a safe location,” the Calgary Police Service said Wednesday.
The woman, 31, has been charged with one count of assault and was released. Police aren’t disclosing her name to protect the identity of the child.
In an emailed statement to Global News, Twitch said the user’s account was permanently suspended, but that the company had no further comment on the matter.
Investigation ‘far from over’
Staff Sgt. Peter Siegenthaler with the CPS Child Abuse Unit said police were able to act swiftly to find the children and ensure their well-being.
A combination of things in the video prompted police to charge the woman, he said.
“It’s essentially that the rough-handling, the biting, the slapping of the child that constitutes an assault,” Siegenthaler said.
Siegenthaler said the investigation is “far from over” because video evidence is still being analyzed.
“There’s a good likelihood that more charges are going to be laid as we go deeper into the investigation,” he said.
Siegenthaler said officers are shocked and concerned about these types of incidents.
“We’ve seen videos like that surface over the last little bit of time, and we see more and more of these videos surface,” he said.
Reporting videos of alleged child abuse
Several people reported the video, including a call from as far away as California, according to Siegenthaler. He thanked the public and media for bringing it to police attention.
“We’re here to protect the children,” he said. “The children are our first and foremost of importance and we want to make sure the children are safe. That’s the primary focus on these investigations.”
Siegenthaler estimates that it’s the second or third incident like this in the last year.
“There’s not a lot of them that we know about,” he said.
“We’re certain that there’s more out there, that people are really livestreaming their entire life. We were just fortunate that several people noticed that video right off the bat and called the police and Crime Stoppers and the cyber line. So we got different tips pretty much simultaneously from different folks.”
If you come across a video like this, Siegenthaler recommends that you call police — don’t share the video.
“These videos are going to be out there forever, and they will resurface again,” he said.
“We really rely on the public to let us know.”
Anyone who has information about an incident involving child abuse is asked to report it to the police non-emergency phone line by calling 403-266-1234. Tips can also be left anonymously through Crime Stoppers.