Child pornography sting leads to hundreds of charges

Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

Hundreds of charges have been laid in a month-long provincewide child exploitation project.

During Project Maverick in October, police across 27 participating agencies conducted 255 investigations, charged 107 people and laid 428 charges, ranging from possession and distribution of child pornography, voyeurism to sexual assault.

In an information video released by police Wednesday on social media, OPP Detective Inspector Jordan Whitesell said additional charges are possible as there are 175 ongoing investigations.

“This is a snapshot of one month out of the year to show that everyone has a role to play when it comes to protecting our children,” said Whitesell. “These numbers are staggering and since the provincial strategy began 16 years ago, they have been increasing.”

Residents in Chatham, London, Woodstock, Amherstburg and Windsor were among those arrested.

Niagara Region Staff Sgt. Brett Atamanyk said they’re seeing a wide age range when it comes to offenders.

“Through Project Maverick, the 107 offenders arrested ranged in age from 18 to 86 years of age,” said Atamanyk. “These offenders are choosing to sexually abuse or exploit a child, some of the most vulnerable victims within our society that we must ensure are protected. Just as the accused persons range in age, they come from all types of professions. The sad reality is that they’re living in our communities. As parents and caregivers, we have to ensure that we’re talking to our kids and remaining vigilant to ensure children are not victimized in the first place.”

Since the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet launched in 2006, a total of 65,564 investigations have been completed, over 24,608 charges have been laid, and 3,470 victims have been identified worldwide.