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Edmonton man charged with luring and child pornography

Click to play video: 'Edmonton man charged with luring and child pornography'
Edmonton man charged with luring and child pornography
A 34-year-old Edmonton man has been arrested after police say he allegedly lured children online, attempting to meet them for sex. As Sarah Ryan explains, local investigators say these kinds of crimes are on the rise around the world. – Jul 13, 2023

An Edmonton man, who police say was trying to meet children for sex, has been arrested by Alberta police.

Police said based on digital evidence obtained from the man’s phone, investigators believe children as young as nine may have been sexually assaulted.

“We are not aware enough of what the children are doing, and we are not aware enough of who is actually out on the internet right now looking for kids,” said Sgt. Kerry Shima, acting unit commander of the Northern Alberta ICE Unit.

Click to play video: 'ICE investigator on internet child exploitation and safety tips'
ICE investigator on internet child exploitation and safety tips

“The luring occurred through the internet and the suspicion is that arrangements were made to meet with these two other children,” said Shima

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In a press conference Thursday, ICE said they deal with victims and suspects from all over the world, and the issue of child luring is increasing rapidly and peaks during summer vacation.

“We’re dealing with a lot of kids at home, kids with extra time unsupervised, and also some of the predators are also off work,” said Shima.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton teacher charged with child luring and child pornography'
Edmonton teacher charged with child luring and child pornography

Aarron Kowalchuk, 34, was arrested at an Edmonton address on June 20, with the assistance of the Edmonton Police Service.

According to the internet child exploration unit of Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams, the man was found carrying a backpack with a conducted energy weapon.

“It was very alarming to us as well that one of our alleged child offenders is carrying this around, said Shima.

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ICE said they got involved with the case when they received a report from the National Centre for Exploited Children, and add the suspect has not been cooperative with the investigation.

Kowalchuk has been charged with child luring, arrangement of a sexual offence against a child, making sexually explicit material available to a child, making child pornography, possession of child pornography, distribution of child pornography and possession of a prohibited device.

Kowalchuk remains in police custody.
Kowalchuk remains in police custody. Handout / Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams

In a statement Thursday, police said a forensic analysis of the man’s seized phone and other computer devices uncovered child sexual exploitation materials and incriminating online chat logs.

Investigators said they believe Kowalchuk was sending children sexually explicit materials and attempting to meet for sex. They allege Kowalchuk met and sexually assaulted at least two children who police have been unable to identify. They say these instances may have taken place in the Edmonton area.

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“Often times offenders are finding ways to reach out to more and more victims hoping that eventually one or two of them will actually carry on a relationship and provide them with what they want,” said Shima.

ICE warns many predators online will present themselves as children on applications such as TikTok, Roblox and Discord, and they are advising parents, teachers, and child minders to have open conversations with children and teens about consent and the threat of online luring.

“Recognize that these are real things happening in real time for these children and if we’re not ahead of it, we’re going to get run over by it,” said Shima

Click to play video: 'Alberta man used Snapchat to exploit ‘upwards of 100’ children: ALERT'
Alberta man used Snapchat to exploit ‘upwards of 100’ children: ALERT

Police confirmed the victim is receiving support and Zebra Child & Youth Advocacy Centre is involved in the investigation.

Kowalchuk remains in custody and is scheduled to appear in court on July 14.

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Police say anyone with information can contact their local police, or report their concern anonymously on cybertip.ca.

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