Child abuse investigation leads to 93 charges
A four-year-old Ottawa boy and a 12-year-old Burlington girl are safe as a result of the largest co-ordinated child abuse investigation in Ontario's history.
"There's two children that will not be abused again. That is the biggest accomplishment. If we can save one child we've accomplished a lot," said Ottawa police Staff-Sgt. Monique Perras.
Police laid 93 charges against 31 men across the province as a result of the sweep, which involved 18 police services.
In Ottawa, the father of a four-year-old boy is charged with distributing and making child pornography. The child was removed from the home and is now in foster care, said Perras.
Police won't identify the 53-year-old man to protect the identity of his son.
Ottawa police say they executed five search warrants on Wednesday. Three were at private homes, two were at workplaces.
"Media was seized, computer media," said Perras. "In one instance, for example, there were over 20,000 pictures of child sexual abuse."
Two other arrests were made in Ottawa. Nathan Engler, 33, and Adam Rizewiski, 27, are both charged with possessing child abuse images.
Bruce Engle, a lawyer for Engler, told CTV Ottawa police raided his client's workplace on Wednesday. Engle said his client was let go from his job on Thursday.
Police have also charged John David Burnes, 20, of Kingston, with possessing child abuse images.
Police say charges across the province include possession of child pornography, making and distributing child pornography and sexual assault.
"You can run, but you can't hide," OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino reminded predators during a press conference on Thursday.
He says the arrests are a result of better equipment, co-ordination and consistent training for police officers.
"These are real children, these are real crimes, these are real victims," Fantino said.
Since a provincial strategy was put in place in August 2006, police have completed more than 5,800 investigations into Internet crimes against children, said OPP Det. Staff-Sgt. Frank Goldsmith. As a result, 2,468 charges have been laid against 809 people, he said.
According to police estimates, about 65,000 computers in Canada are actively involved in distributing child pornography.
Perras says there is evidence that people who indulge in child abuse images will eventually commit the offence themselves.
"These pictures are from children and they're getting younger and younger. These children have been sexually abused, raped. These are our children. This is not a victimless crime," she told CTV Ottawa on Thursday.
"You actually have pictures of babies being sexually abused."
Police say the investigations are ongoing and more charges may be pending.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Joanne Schnurr