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Northern Ont. man charged for child sex offences, luring

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A 41-year-old man was charged after a four-month investigation into historic sexual offences involving youth in northern Ontario, police say.

The investigation began Oct. 25 when officers with the Atikokan detachment received a complaint about several sexual offences that happened between 2016 and 2020, Ontario Provincial Police said in a news release Monday.

With the help of the Rainy River District crime unit, the suspect was arrested and charged with making sexually explicit material available to someone under 16 and two counts of child luring through telecommunications.

"Luring a child is contacting or attempting to contact someone who you know is a minor online with the intent to commit sexual exploitation, child pornography, sexual assault or incest," criminal defence lawyer Cory Wilson said on his website about child luring.

"You can also be charged with luring a child if you communicate with a person that you know to be under the age of 16 with the intent to commit sexual exploitation, invitation to sexual touching, indecent exposure and abduction."

In the Atikokan case, the luring charges involve someone under 16 and someone under 18.

"The ability to track individuals attempting to lure minors through social media and other online platforms is becoming increasingly sophisticated," Wilson said.

"Considerable law enforcement resources are now plowed into catching those who exploit children online for sexual purposes and the number of prosecuted cases is increasing."

Under the Criminal Code, it is not enough to simply believe someone is at least 14, 16 or 18, "unless the accused took reasonable steps to ascertain the age of the person."

"Child luring is an extremely serious criminal offence to be accused of in Canada because it requires a mandatory minimum jail sentence of at least six months if the accused is ultimately found guilty," Toronto-based criminal defence lawyer Mark Zinck said on his website.

"The maximum possible sentence is 14 years in prison. The length of the sentence will depend on aggravating factors such as prior charges, but the judge by law cannot go any lower than six months in custody even for first-time offenders."

OPP said the Atitkokan man has been held in custody and was scheduled to appear in court in Thunder Bay for a bail hearing Sunday.

"Police are requesting anyone who may have additional information or believes that they were a victim of a similar circumstance to contact the Rainy River District OPP detachment at 1-888-310-1122," OPP said.

Examples of child luring include:

  • Asking a minor to take and send sexual pictures or videos
  • Sending minors sexually explicit photos/videos and requesting sexual images in return
  • Grooming behaviors to win a child’s trust
  • Creating fake online/social media profiles with the intent to communicate with minors
  • Arranging to meet a minor in person

Survivors are not alone

If you or someone you know has been victimized by online child sexual exploitation, help is available.

Canada also has a national tip line for reporting online sexual exploitation of children.

In an immediate crisis, call 911.

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