Edmonton·Video

Alberta family physician charged with child exploitation

A family doctor in Sylvan Lake, Alta., has been charged with child exploitation offences following a joint investigation involving police in Alberta and British Columbia.

30-year Sylvan Lake doctor was president of Alberta College of Family Physicians

Staff Sgt. Stephen Camp talks about the child exploitation charges against Dr. Fred Janke following a joint investigation involving police in Alberta and British Columbia. 1:48

A family doctor in Sylvan Lake, Alta., has been charged with child exploitation offences following a joint investigation involving police in Alberta and British Columbia.

Dr. Fred Janke, 62, has been charged with making arrangements to commit sexual offences against a child, making child pornography, and distribution of child pornography, the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams said Friday.

He was arrested Thursday in Edmonton. The charges of making and distributing child porn charges stem from conversations Janke had with an undercover officer.

"One of the things that a lot of the accused will do when they're engaging in conversations with undercover operators is write lots of narrative in regards to the descriptions of what they have done or want to do," said Staff Sgt. Stephen Camp. 

"That, under the Criminal Code, is making child pornography. When you press the send button that's distribution."

Janke has been a practising physician in Sylvan Lake for almost 30 years. He was in the second year of his term as president of the Alberta College of Family Physicians, but was removed from the position Friday, spokesperson Susan Wong Armstrong said. 

Dr. Fred Janke, 62, is facing charges related to child exploitation, said ALERT in a news release Friday. (University of Alberta)

The college said in a statement it was "shocked and saddened by this news announced today." 

Dr. Vishal Bhella has assumed the role of president.

Janke is identified on the University of Alberta website as an associate professor in the department of family medicine. The institution initially said privacy laws prevent them from commenting on Janke's employment, but later provided an update on his status. 

"Dr. Janke has been placed on leave and his duties have been reassigned," the U of A said in a statement Friday.

"The university is committed to providing a safe working and learning environment, and will take all appropriate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of the university community."

Janke's U of A biography cites numerous accolades, including Outstanding Clinician of the Year for the David Thompson Health Region in 2000 and recipient of a fellowship from the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada in 2009.

'Must not and will not practise medicine'

While this matter is pending, it's "unacceptable" that a physician in this position would practise, said Steve Buick, spokesperson for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.

"Our position is simply, Dr. Janke must not and will not practise medicine while this matter is pending," Buick said Friday.

Janke will be asked to voluntarily withdraw immediately from providing medical services. If he refuses, the college will suspend his licence using the emergency powers it has under the Health Professions Act.

"We will get that done today, if possible, or as soon as we can," Buick said.

The college is responsible for the registration, regulation and discipline of physicians in Alberta.

Whether or not the criminal charges against Janke result in a conviction, the college could lay additional sanctions as a disciplinary action, said Buick.

The Sylvan Family Health Centre in Sylvan Lake, Alta. (Michelle Bellefontaine / CBC)

He added that the college has no records of disciplinary action against Janke.

"The truth is, it's a shock to us as the regulator, just as it is to the public and to his patients," Buick said.

Dating back to October 2017, a suspect is alleged to have been engaged in sexually explicit conversations with a person he met online, ALERT said in a news release.

The sexual conversations allegedly progressed to attempts being made to arrange for sex with the person's five-year-old daughter.

However, the daughter did not exist and the conversations were actually with an undercover operator with the Victoria Police Department, said ALERT.

The Victoria police department's Internet Child Exploitation Unit had been conducting an investigation involving a website that is known to host online chat rooms geared toward child sex. 

Once it was determined the person being monitored was from Alberta, police in Victoria referred the case to police in Edmonton.

While the investigation and charges are related strictly to online offences, ALERT's Internet Child Exploitation Unit is asking anyone with information about this case to come forward and contact police or cybertip.ca.

ALERT is an integration of law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.