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Calgary woman charged after alleged child abuse livestreamed on gaming site Twitch

WATCH: A Calgary mom has been charged with assault following a disturbing incident online. Global News' Tomasia DaSilva has details on the charges and a warning from one tech expert about your privacy online – Dec 18, 2019

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.

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READ MORE: Apparent child abuse livestreamed on Twitch gaming website prompts Calgary police investigation

“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.”

Calgary police issue statement after charging mother for allegedly abusing child on livestream – Dec 18, 2019

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.

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“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.

Calgary police looking into 2nd possible video showing abuse on Twitch – Dec 18, 2019

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.

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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.

“Our evidence suggests that, at this point, one count of assault [deals with] the younger of the two children.”​

READ MORE: Video game addiction listed as a mental health problem by WHO

Siegenthaler​​ said the investigation is “far from over” because video evidence is still being analyzed.

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“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.

“It’s hard because sometimes these videos are being circulated for years and it’s hard to determine the origin and the time these videos were produced. This video, we were able to identify a person very quickly, and probably within several hours, two hours, we were able to identify the person. We had our [Child at Risk Response Team] at the house. We were securing the children. And to let you know, the children are safe.”
‘We see more and more of the videos surface’: Calgary police on livestream abuse videos – Dec 18, 2019

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.

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“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.”

READ MORE: Gamer charged after alleged assault of pregnant woman streamed online

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.”

Calgary police urge people to report videos showing crimes and not share them – Dec 18, 2019

If you come across a video like this, Siegenthaler recommends that you call police — don’t share the video.

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“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.


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