A 60-year-old Edmonton man employed by Alberta Children's Services has been charged with child exploitation-related offences.
Ray Neveu, whose home also operated as an unlicensed babysitting and child-care service, was arrested Wednesday by the internet child exploitation (ICE) unit of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams.
ALERT issued a news release Friday saying Neveu has been charged with child luring, possession of child pornography and accessing child pornography. Investigators said Neveu posed online as an underage girl and engaged in '"sexualized chats" with other children. Photos were exchanged, ALERT said.
Neveu is employed as a case aide at the Stony Plain office of Alberta Children's Services, ALERT said. He had been employed by Children's Services for 15 to 20 years, Cpl. Cameron Dunn of the ICE unit told a news conference.
For about 10 years, Neveu's wife has been the primary operator of an unlicensed child-care service in their northeast Edmonton home, ALERT said.
Roughly nine children were using the services.
"At this point in the investigation, it does not appear any children were offended upon," the news release said. "However, ICE believes Neveu was left alone with children at the residence and through his employment."
The investigation is continuing.
"The combination of the alleged offences and the suspect's access to children poses an obvious concern. Our investigation will explore if any children were harmed, and we are soliciting information from the public," Dunn, the primary investigator in the case, said in the news release.
ICE is asking anyone with information about this investigation, or any child exploitation offence, to contact local police or www.cybertip.ca.
Neveu's arrest came after a week-long investigation prompted by a tip from the public.
"Mr. Neveu posed as an underage child himself — underage female — and engaged in online chats, sexualized chats with children, who probably believed he was a same-aged child," Dunn told the news conference.
The girls were in the 14-18 age group, he said.
"Many of them maybe believed that they were involved in a consensual, same-age type relationship, online relationship, and finding out that they were actually sending images to a male predator, that would be extremely disconcerting, I'm sure," Dunn said.
Aaron Manton, press secretary to Children's Services Minister Danielle Larivee, said the ministry is committed to co-operating fully with police as they continue to investigate.
"If concerns are ever raised about the conduct of our employees, we take every concern extremely seriously, and act quickly so that Albertans know we are doing whatever we can to support their safety and well-being."
ALERT tackles serious and organized crimes. Members of the Calgary Police Service, Edmonton Police Service, Lethbridge Police Service, Medicine Hat Police Service, and RCMP are all involved in ALERT.
Neveu's next court appearance is set for Nov. 15.