KAWARTHA LAKES-At least 62 of the 107 people charged in a massive child sexual abuse investigation have been released on bail and are already back in the community.
On Wednesday police announced hundreds of charges were laid across Ontario by investigators and analysts that make up the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet (Provincial Strategy).
The results of the investigations completed in October is named Project MAVERICK. During the month, the 27 policing partners conducted 255 investigations, completed 168 search warrants and seized 1,032 devices. In total, 428 charges were laid against 107 people. Many of them face multiple charges. At least 62 of them have already been released on bail with the release status of many others is not known.
“Our job is to out and find the predators and bring them before the courts and once that piece is done we will continue to monitor those who become repeat offenders and we will go out and get them again,” said Detective Inspector Jordan Whitesell, OPP when asked if officers are frustrated with the catch and release system. “That’s probably all I can say on that.”
The Toronto Police Association released a statement condemning the release of 22 people charged by officers in Toronto during Project Maverick.
“Our members arrested 23 people including men women and youth. The accused parties face 96 charges including possession, accessing, sharing and making child pornography, luring to sexual touching and sexual assault. The efforts of these investigators identified 22 victims and safeguarded 10 children.” said the statement “22 of the 23 offenders were released on bail including a man charged with luring a person under 16, three counts of sexual assault and three counts of sexual interference as well as another man who previously had been charged for simliar offences.”
Two Peterborough residents were charged in the month-long investigation. At least one was released on bail
33-year-old Kalin Armstrong fo Peterborough was charged with:
- Make Available Child Pornography
- Distribution of Child Pornography
- Possession of Child Pornography
- Accessing Child Pornography
He will appear in court on December 14. It’s unclear if he is still in custody.
A 32-year-old unnamed adult male from Peterborough was charged with:
•Possession of Child Pornography
- Distribution of Child Pornography
He was released on bail with conditions, next court appearance December 6, 2022
“When will the justice system realize that releasing individuals accused of such crimes cause a risk to public safety and brings the administration of justice into disrepute?” said the Toronto Police Association.
Whitesell says once they are released back into unsuspecting communities it’s up to police to monitor them.
“When these people are arrested some will be on bail conditions so our monitoring of them will be in compliance with the bail conditions set by the court. If they come to our attention again we will go and arrest them again. We take these offences very seriously”
During Project Maverick, 61 victims were identified and referred to appropriate community-based resources for assistance, while an additional 60 children were safeguarded. There are 175 ongoing investigations where additional charges may be laid.
The Provincial Strategy includes two ministries (Attorney General and Solicitor General) and 27 participating police agencies: Barrie, Belleville, Brantford, Chatham-Kent, Cornwall, Durham, Greater Sudbury, Guelph, Halton, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Niagara, North Bay, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Ottawa, Peel, Peterborough, Sarnia, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Toronto, Waterloo, Windsor, Woodstock and York.
The investigations continue and anyone with information on these or any child exploitation investigations are asked to contact their local police. Report any instances of online child abuse to police or cybertip.ca. If a child is being harmed, call 9-1-1.