The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams have saved a four-year-old Red Deer boy from sexual abuse in connection to an international Internet child exploitation investigation.

The investigation began after police in Idaho seized evidence in another case that led to the identity of a child who was being sexually abused.

Police say a toddler was allegedly sexually abused by his biological mother and that photos of the abuse were sent over the Internet to someone in Boise, Idaho.

“I can’t provide specifics of the extent of the abuse, all I can say is that the abuse was being photographed and sent via email over the Internet,” said Insp. Dave Dubnyk from ICE. “To another individual, one that we’re aware of and that’s the extent of our investigation, suggests it was one individual.”

The Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children Unit determined that the child was from Red Deer and ALERT expedited the investigation and identified the offender.

"Our concern, of course, is for the health and well-being of this young child and that’s why our investigators acted as quickly as they did to ensure that he was removed from this abusive situation,” said Insp. Dubnyk.

The suspect was arrested on Wednesday at a licensed daycare in Red Deer where she worked.

The woman is charged with:

  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Making child pornography
  • Distributing child pornography
  • Possessing child pornography
  • Accessing child pornography

“It is far more rare to have a female offender on their child, it’s not the first time I’ve seen it, however, it is certainly more rare than the alternative of having a male offender,” said Dubnyk.

Police say that the child is safe and is receiving support.

The name of the woman is not being released to protect the identity of the child.

Investigators say that the daycare operator is cooperating with the investigation. It is not believed that any of the offences involved children from the facility and parents were notified by email on Wednesday evening.

The woman was charged and released on strict conditions to ensure she has no contact with the boy while the investigation continues.

Police say the woman is not known to them and had no criminal record when she was arrested.

She will next appear in Red Deer Provincial Court on July 16, 2016.

“It absolutely is disturbing, I’ve been policing for over 26 years and of course have seen a lot of incidences, these are very disturbing cases. This is a heinous crime that was committed on a young child by the one person that they should be able to trust the most to protect them and it was quite the opposite in this instance,” said Dubnyk.

The Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre is involved with providing support in the case and Kennedy says it’s important to give the child help now.

“When kids are abused, early childhood trauma that comes from the abuse and so forth, makes up over 80 percent of mental health issues in this country so until we start recognizing the impact of this crime, I don’t think that we’re doing it justice,” he said.

For more information about how to recognize signs of child abuse and other resources, please visit the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre website at HERE.