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Newmarket man among 5 York residents charged in OPP child exploitation probe

More than 122 persons, including 11 youth, have been charged and 55 victims identified in just one month by investigators on the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet
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2018-12-05 opp porn bust
Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum of the OPP Investigation and Support Bureau (centre) says the OPP will "not stand for anyone hurting our kids". Supplied photo/OPP

NEWS RELEASE
ONTARIO PROVINCIAL POLICE
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Numerous charges have been laid across Ontario – including one in Newmarket – in what police are calling a snapshot of one month's worth of work by internet child exploitation investigators who make up the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet.

At a media conference today in Vaughan, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), along with 26 police agencies of the Provincial Strategy, announced the results of investigations during the month of November across Ontario.

A total of 267 judicial authorizations were obtained, resulting in 551 charges against 122 persons, including 11 youth who cannot be identified under terms of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Charges include: sexual assault, sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, possession of child pornography, make available child pornography, distribution of child pornography, making child pornography, accessing child pornography, luring, making sexually explicit material available to a child.

Five residents from York Region and one man from Bradford are charged:

  • John Kerr, 63, of Newmarket is charged with making child pornography,  and counsel to commit an indictable Offence (sexual assault). counsel to commit an indictable offence (invitation to sexual touching), counsel to commit an indictable offence (make child pornography). He is to appear in Toronto court Dec. 19.
  • An unnamed Aurora resident (under the age of 18) is charged with luring a person under the age of 16 and possession of child pornography and is to appear in Newmarket court Dec. 18.
  • Antonio Ianniello, 50, of Vaughan is charged with possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography. He is to appear in Newmarket court Dec. 18.
  • Michael A. Braun, 49, of Jackson's Point is charged with luring a person under 16, sexual interference and attempted sexual assault. He is to appear in Newmarket court Dec. 19.
  • Jordan Leetham, 19, of Keswick is charged with making child pornography available, possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography. No date is set for his Newmarket court appearance.
  • Alexander C. Testa, 30, of Bradford is charged with luring a person under 16, attempted sexual assault and sexual interference. He is to appear in Newmarket court Dec. 18.

Police have not released the names of 11 of those charged because they are under the age of 18, as required by the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

"It is our fundamental and moral responsibility to ensure every child grows up safe. On behalf of the OPP, I want to make this message very clear: We will not stand for anyone hurting our kids. We will do everything we can to reduce the threat child predators pose to our children," said Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum, OPP Investigation and Support Bureau.

In addition, 55 victims were identified during the investigations and referred to appropriate community-based resources for assistance. Police also seized a total of 17 firearms, three of which were loaded handguns.

Additional partners that participated in these investigations included RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, The FBI and United States Homeland Security Investigations. Representatives of BOOST Child and Youth Advocacy Centre and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (CCCP) were also on hand to advocate for more services for identified victims of exploitation and to enhance awareness to prevent further harm and victimization.

Police displayed a video showing 834 unique IP addresses associated to the possession or making available of child sexual abuse material or were present on a suspected child pornography website. These IP addresses were observed over the month of November alone. Police describe these numbers as the "tip of the iceberg" in relation to online child sexual exploitation in Ontario.

"Perpetrators of online sexual exploitation often minimize their actions by saying they were 'just looking.' Let me be clear: Anyone who possesses, distributes, accesses or otherwise supports the supply and demand chain for child sexual abuse images are complicit in the sexual exploitation of children," said Staff Sgt. Sharon Hanlon, Coordinator of the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet

From its inception in August 2006, the Provincial Strategy has completed 50,403 investigations and laid 20,901 charges against 5,686 people. During that period, 2,009 child victims have been identified in Ontario and beyond.

The investigation continues and additional arrests are pending.

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