Edmonton

Edmonton teacher charged with child pornography offences

A teacher at an Edmonton Catholic junior high school has been charged with child pornography offences after a six-month investigation by ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) team.

Marc Daigle, 26, teaches at St. Nicholas Catholic junior high and is also a private music teacher

Seen in this undated photo, Marc Daigle, a teacher at St. Nicholas Catholic Junior High School, has been charged with a series of child pornography offences. (Facebook)

A teacher at an Edmonton Catholic junior high school has been charged with child pornography offences after a six-month investigation by ALERT's Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) team.

Marc Daigle, 26, was arrested early Wednesday at his home with the assistance of Edmonton police, the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams said Friday.

Daigle is charged with possessing, accessing, and making available child pornography. A search warrant was conducted at his Edmonton home where a number of computer and electronic devices were seized, ALERT said.

He taught at St. Nicholas Catholic Junior High School, 3643 115th Ave.

Lori Nagy, a spokesperson for Edmonton Catholic Schools, said Daigle's employment was terminated on Thursday, the day after his arrest.

The school's website says Daigle taught music, jazz band, honour band and physical education.

Daigle is also a private music teacher, ALERT said.

His last day of teaching was Tuesday, Nagy said.

Staff were informed of Daigle's arrest at 8 a.m. Friday, she added. 

'He was well-liked'

"Teachers were very, very upset and distraught," Nagy said. "He was well-liked by the kids and the staff."

Daigle was in his second year of teaching, she said.

Teachers are now talking to their students and a critical response team has been brought in to help students and staff.

It was absolutely shocking to hear that about one of our teachers.- Kathy MacRae, chair of parent advisory council

Parents have been informed by email and a hard copy of a letter will go home with students Friday afternoon, Nagy added.

She said Daigle did not give any private music lessons at the school.

Kathy MacRae, chair of the parent advisory council at St. Nicholas, said her son had Daigle as his music teacher.

"It was absolutely shocking to hear that about one of our teachers," MacRae said. "He absolutely loves music and made it fun for all the kids."

MacRae said she had been texting throughout the day with her son, who she said was "very sad."

The Grade 8 student asked his mother's permission to go home early from school. She allowed it.

"We'll talk about it some more at home tonight," she said.

ALERT said the investigation into Daigle began in December 2016 with a referral from the RCMP's National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre about a social media user uploading child pornography.

"They had information that a social media user was uploading child pornography," ALERT spokesperson Mike Tucker told CBC News.

"We get thousands of those referrals concerning users. What is unique about this case was that when we did the initial work-up, it was revealed that this suspect was employed as a teacher, which obviously poses a higher degree of concern for our investigators.

"It's a significant risk because of the access to children. If someone is engaging in a type of online behaviour where they are downloading and sharing child exploitation photos and videos, and they are in a position where they are entrusted and/or care for kids, it provides an opportunity to access."

Released on conditions

Daigle was released from custody on a number of court-imposed conditions, including not to hold employment at a location where it is reasonable to believe children under the age of 16 may be present. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 7.

ICE is encouraging anyone with information about the case to contact police. Anyone with information about this investigation, or any child exploitation offence is encouraged to contact local police or cybertip.ca.

"We're alive to the possibility that there may very well be victims that can come forward and contact us," Tucker said.

He said the devices seized from Daigle's home will be subject to forensic examination "to gather possibly more evidence to support these charges, and see if there is any other information on there to warrant new charges."

With files from Lydia Neufeld

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