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Wainwright man charged with online child luring, sexual assault

Click to play video: 'Online child exploitation cases spike in Alberta amid COVID-19 pandemic' Online child exploitation cases spike in Alberta amid COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH (April 21): The ALERT internet child exploitation unit says reports of online sexual exploitation in Alberta have spiked during the COVID-19 crusis. As Kendra Slugoski explains, in March, there more than double the average number of cases reported and increased internet use may be to blame – Apr 21, 2020

A 30-year-old man was arrested in Wainwright, Alta., and has been charged with several offences, including child luring, possession of child pornography and extortion.

Wainwright RCMP received multiple complaints about an unknown suspect dating back to January 2019. Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team’s Internet Child Exploitation unit became involved in the investigation in April 2020.

The two agencies executed search warrants and Jesse Keller was arrested at his home on May 6.

He was charged with child luring, sexual assault, extortion, invitation to sexual touching, making sexually explicit material available to a child, making arrangements for a sexual offence against a child and possession of child pornography.

According to ALERT, the accused allegedly lured and extorted at least three victims through a variety of online social media applications.

“In one instance, Keller allegedly met and sexually assaulted one of the victims,” the agency said.

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READ MORE: ICE reports spike in online child exploitation cases in Alberta amid COVID-19 pandemic

Investigators are gathering more information by conducting an examination and forensic analysis of computers and electronic devices seized from the accused’s home.

“Increased online activity during [COVID-19] isolation puts children at risk of being taken advantage of,” said Cpl. Kirk Smith, with Wainwright RCMP. “We are asking all parents to be aware of who their children are chatting with online and the type of conversations that are taking place.”

READ MORE: Online sexual exploitation of children rising amid COVID-19 crisis, Quebec police warn

Anyone with information on this case is asked to contact local police or cybertip.ca.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection offers reminders for youth who may be dealing with online blackmail or extortion:

  • Never comply with the threat
  • Stop all forms of communication with the individual (block from accounts)
  • Deactivate all accounts used to communicate with the individual
  • Speak to a safe adult about what is happening
  • Contact Cybertip.ca or police

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