WARNING: The content in this article may be disturbing to some readers.
The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams announced Thursday that a teenager who has connections to Alberta and British Columbia has been arrested and charged with child pornography offences in connection with a child sexual exploitation investigation.
In the same news release, ALERT said it was trying to identify a young child who investigators believe was sexually assaulted.
“(ALERT’s internet child exploitation unit) has been unable to identify the victim to date but estimates they are female between six and 10 years old,” the law enforcement agency said.
In an attempt to identify the child, ALERT released an image of a bedroom that they say investigators found on the accused’s cellphone.
The accused, who is a 16-year-old boy, has been charged with possessing child pornography, accessing child pornography and transmitting child pornography. He has not been charged with sexual assault but is a suspect in the sexual assault investigation.
ALERT said investigators believe the bedroom is where the assault took place. The image released by law enforcement officials is partly blacked out.
“Our hope is that someone recognizes this crime scene and can help locate our victim,” said Sgt. Kerry Shima of ALERT’s internet child exploitation unit (ICE).
“We believe this victim has suffered extensively and want to provide them with the support they deserve.”
Because the suspect in the case is only 16, they cannot be named as per the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The boy was arrested on Aug. 17 and investigators believe he and the child that was sexually assaulted know each other.
“At the time of their arrest the suspect was living in Bon Accord, Alta., which is located approximately 30 kilometres north of Edmonton,” ALERT said. “The suspect may have lived at various locations in the Edmonton area and has also recently lived on the east coast of Vancouver Island near Nanaimo and Ladysmith.
“ICE is limited in what information can be provided in order to protect the suspect’s identity under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. A full forensic analysis is underway of computers and electronic devices seized from the suspect.”
ALERT said investigators believe child exploitation materials connected with their investigation were uploaded via the social media platform Discord.
“The sexual assault is egregious,” Shima said. “It’s violent and obviously something that would be disturbing to anybody.
“What’s unusual about this is that we have a photo of the actual crime scene and we don’t know where that place is.”
Shima noted that the image ALERT was releasing to the public in an attempt to generate tips “is a screen capture of a video recording that was taken on an Apple computer.”
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the following numbers, depending on where they live:
– in the Edmonton area, the Edmonton Police Service’s non-emergency line at 780-423-4567;
– in the Nanaimo area, Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345;
– in the Ladysmith area, Ladysmith RCMP at 250-245-2215.
People can also anonymously submit tips through Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477.