By Caley Ramsay and Emily Mertz Global News
Fourteen people from communities across northern Alberta have been charged with more than 30 offences related to online child sexual exploitation.
The suspects were all charged between June and October of this year. They are all men between the ages of 26 and 61.
The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams’ (ALERT) Internet Child Exploitation unit (ICE) said none of them worked in professions of trust and/or authority.
Officials said Operation ICE Reign was launched in response to an increase in child sexual exploitation offences. The ICE unit has seen a 75 per cent increase in the number of new child sexual exploitation cases over the last six years.
“Operation ICE Reign resulted in the seizure of thousands of photos and videos of children being abused and each one of those images represents a real-world victim,” ALERT Insp. Dave Dubnyk said. “As a society, we have a collective responsibility to protect children and shield them from sexual exploitation.”
“These images seized in this investigation depict extreme abuse with victims, sometimes as young as infants,” Dubnyk added. “Our forensic technicians are still examining the more than 250 computers, cell phones and electronics devices that were seized and, to date, have found upwards of 25,000 photos and videos.”
ALERT said there “is no definitive link between the suspects other than the offences allegedly committed.”
The following individuals are facing charges, although the ALERT news release did not reveal what specific charges they were facing:
Jeremy Able, 27, of Edmonton
Aaron Badger, 26, of Bonnyville
Brian Bandura, 61, of Edmonton
Nicholas Bauer, 28, of Edmonton
Robert Caissie, 26, of Edmonton
Brett Gray, 38, of Edmonton
Daniel Houde, 44, of Fort McMurray
Daniel Kozel, 38, of Edmonton
Alexandre Martin, 29, of Fort McMurray
James Morris, 40, of Grande Prairie
Freddy Reiter, 56, of St. Albert
James Reiter, 39, of Spruce Grove
Peter Ritchie, 45, of Kikino Metis Settlement
Cody Roguski, 32, of Fort McMurray
ICE is a unit made up of members from the Edmonton Police Service and the RCMP.
It investigates offences involving child pornography, any computer-related child sexual abuse, child luring over the Internet, voyeurism involving victims under the age of 18 and child sex trade/tourism.
This is one of the most difficult jobs on the planet, but one of the most vital. Thank you all for doing it. God bless you.
Officers hope Operation ICE Reign raises awareness about the pervasiveness of child sexual exploitation. ALERT partnered with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
“While the Internet did not create this problem, it has created unprecedented opportunities for offenders to access, possess and distribute child sexual abuse material-as well as actively participate in the market of child sexual abuse,” Lianna McDonald, executive director for the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, said. “Today’s announcement not only underscores how significant a problem this is, but also challenges the misconceptions about who and what type of individuals participate in these crimes against children.”
McDonald said, to date, the centre has received information from 115 survivors of abuse.
“We are now starting to see the first generation of victims of child sexual abuse whose abuse has been recorded and distributed online,” she said. “They are now reaching adulthood.”
Can you imagine a teen or young adult growing up, knowing that there are intimate pictures or videos of them being sexually abused out there on the internet with no real way of removing them. What a nightmare! Child porn makers out to be locked up for the rest of their lives. Their victims will suffer for the rest of theirs in fear of their images suddenly turning up one day among family or friends.
Anyone with information about this investigation or any child exploitation offence is asked to contact local police or cybertip.ca.