Warning: This article may be disturbing to some readers.
A Strathcona County mother has been charged with sexual exploitation after an investigation linked her to international sexual exploitation of her toddler.
The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit rescued the toddler-aged child from the home east of Edmoton on Saturday after receiving a tip from the FBI about “prolific and ongoing sexual abuse of a young child in Alberta,” according to an ALERT news release Tuesday.
In October in Yuba City, California, Brian Davis, 30, was arrested and charged “with suspicion of oral copulation with a victim under 10 years old, possession of obscene matter involving a minor in sexual acts with the intent to distribute,” said ALERT.
Computers and electronics seized from the man found he was talking to an Edmonton-area woman over the messaging platform Kik, shortly before his arrest.
The chats between the two indicated there was some sort of relationship between them, police said.
The woman shared very graphic sexual material of her toddler with Davis, and suggested the abuse the child endured was extreme and continuing, said Sgt. Kerry Shima at a news conference in Sherwood Park Tuesday.
He added there is no indication the child was ever in contact with Davis.
The information gathered in Davis’ case was taken to ICE by the FBI and the child was removed from the home, Shima said.
“I have been a police officer for nearly 22 years and with this unit for nearly three, and this is some of the most egregious material I have been exposed to.”
The child was taken to hospital and is receiving support and care from several established organizations, including Alberta Children’s Services and Zebra Centre for Child Protection.
While officials were unable to provide exact details of the wellbeing of the child, Shima said the child has been released from hospital and is doing “alright.”
The child’s father was not aware of what was happening and has been cooperative with police, ALERT said.
The 35-year-old mother, whose name will not be release to protect the identity of the child, is charged with sexual exploitation, sexual interference, arrangement to commit a sexual offence against a child, making child pornography, distribution of child pornography, accessing child pornography and possession of child pornography, according to ALERT Edmonton.
She has been released from custody with strict conditions and is set to appear in Sherwood Park court on Feb. 22.
Read more: Woman shares road to justice for alleged child sexual abuse: ‘It’s hard when someone doesn’t listen to you’
The case is an example in a warning issued by ALERT and joint law enforcement agencies about a global sextortion crisis.
Law enforcement agencies in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and United States, “have seen a major increase in sextortion cases, where children, specifically boys, are being coerced into sending explicit images online and are then extorted for money,” reads the release.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection receives, on average, 200 sextortion reports every month — 87 per cent of which affect boys ages 10-17, ALERT said.
Sextortion can happen anywhere, as it is committed virtually, but does have offline repercussions.
According to ALERT, if you or someone you know if being sextorted:
- Remember, the predator is to blame, not the child
- Stop all communication with the offender
- Do not delete your social media account, messages, or images because these can help law enforcement
- Save a copy of any images you sent, and take screenshots of the messages, including the person’s profile including username
- Get help before sending money or more images. Cooperating rarely stops the blackmail and harassment, but police can
- Trust your instincts and practice caution when communicating online
- Reach out to a trusted adult, and report what happened through cybertip.ca or to your local police. By reporting, you can help to keep other teens safe as well
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