16 people in southwestern Ontario charged in online child sex abuse roundup
OPP worked with local police forces to charge more than 120 people across the province
A province-wide investigation into online child pornography has resulted in 16 people in southwestern Ontario facing charges.
Charges include sexual assault, sexual interference, possession of child pornography and making sexually explicit material available to a child.
In this region, seven people from London were charged, two were from Chatham, and one each from Windsor, Sarnia, Owen Sound, Woodstock, Listowel, Exeter, and Strathroy.
We will not stand for anyone hurting our kids- OPP Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum
The charges were announced at a media briefing in Vaughan.
"It is our fundamental and moral responsibility to ensure every child grows up safe," said Deputy Commissioner Rick Barnum of the OPP's investigations and support bureau.
Dozens of victims identified
Police said 55 victims were identified during their investigation. The victims have been offered support, according to the OPP.
Officers also said they seized 17 firearms, three of which were loaded handguns.
"Perpetrators of online sexual exploitation often minimize their actions by saying they were 'just looking.' Let me be clear: Anyone who possesses, distributes, accesses or otherwise supports the supply and demand chain for child sexual abuse images are complicit in the sexual exploitation of children," said Staff Sgt. Sharon Hanlon, coordinator of the provincial strategy to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation on the Internet.
More charges are pending, police said.