Ontario police laid hundreds of child exploitation charges in November
Published Wednesday, December 5, 2018 12:48PM EST
Provincial police say statistics from the month of November demonstrate how widespread a problem child exploitation remains throughout Ontario.
At a news conference Wednesday morning, OPP investigators announced that they and 26 other forces across the province arrested 122 people on 551 charges last month.
Of those, seven were in London, two in Chatham, one in Strathroy-Caradoc, one in Woodstock, one in Sarnia, and several other scattered across southwestern Ontario.
And they were diverse; there were 12 people with previous convictions for offences related to child sexual abuse materials, 11 people under age 18 and one female.
They say officers identified 834 unique IP addresses accessing child pornography during November alone, describing that figure as "the tip of the iceberg."
The people arrested include past and present teachers, emergency services personnel, military members and others active in local communities.
Charges ranged from sexual assault, sexual interference, luring and invititation to sexual touching, all the way to possession of child pornography.
Investigators say anyone who accesses child pornography online is complicit in the abuse and constant revictimization of children, some of whom were as young as three.
"Some of these victims are so young, they cannot report the crimes because they have not uttered their first word," OPP Insp. Tina Chalk said at the news conference. "If you watch, distribute or access child pornography, you may as well be holding the hand of the offender who is committing the abuse."
Officials also revealed that 55 victims were identified and referred to community resources for assistance.
Since its inception in 2006, police said the coordinated provincial strategy has resulted in nearly 21,000 charges against 5,686 people and rescued 2,009 children.
With files from The Canadian Press.