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Sexual exploitation charges laid against Airdrie, Alta., man

The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) logo is shown in a stock photo. (ALERT) The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) logo is shown in a stock photo. (ALERT)

Authorities say an Airdrie, Alta., man faces several charges related to the sexual exploitation of a young family member.

The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team's (ALERT) Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit said the suspect was arrested on Jan. 19 following the search of an Airdrie home.

They did not say how old the child victim was.

The 26-year-old man cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, but has been charged with:

  • Sexual assault;
  • Sexual interference;
  • Invitation to sexual touching;
  • Making child pornography;
  • Accessing child pornography; and
  • Possession of child pornography.

ALERT says the charges come after investigators were told the suspect was uploading suspected child exploitation materials to the Internet via social media.

A search of a home resulted in the seizure of several computers and electronic devices. Forensic technicians conducted a preliminary analysis and found images, believed to depict sexual abuse, on the suspect's phone.

They add the victim's mother was unaware of the abuse.

"You can appreciate the trauma this family is experiencing right now. It was a great relief to our team to end this abuse," said Det. Erin Penner with ALERT's ICE unit in a statement.

The victim and family members are being offered support through the Luna Child and Youth Advocacy Centre and Airdrie Victim Services. Alberta Children's Services is also involved.

Investigators say parents should always be aware of their children's activities online and watch for any warning signs.

"In regards to medical distress, injuries, not wanting to be with whoever the family member may be, may not want to go out and visit with anybody," said Det. Dean Jacobs with ALERT in an interview with CTV News.

"They may not want to have that alone time that they normally would. You might see some changes in their personality and what they usually do."

Jacobs says child exploitation is a big issue in Alberta, Canada and the world.

"We can't arrest ourselves out of this. We need help from family members, if they see something, they need to report it right away and at least get there to save the child.

"These are our kids and they need to be protected. Some of them can't speak for themselves so, as adults, we need to do that and protect our kids."

The suspect is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 16.

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