Charges expected against U.S. man accused of counselling Ottawa child to end life

Ottawa police are expecting to lay charges against a U.S. man who allegedly encouraged a child in the Ottawa area to take their own life.

U.S.-based Homeland Security Investigations taking lead, Ottawa police say

Ottawa police say they're working with U.S.-based Homeland Security Investigations on an investigation into a 34-year-old U.S. man who allegedly tried to encourage a child in the Ottawa area to take their own life. (CBC)

Ottawa police are expecting to lay charges against a U.S. man who allegedly encouraged a child in the Ottawa area to take their own life.

In November, Ottawa police and law-enforcement agencies across Ontario conducted a series of co-ordinated child pornography investigations.

In Ottawa, six men ranging from 21 to 75 years old were arrested and charged with offences including distributing child pornography, possessing child pornography, accessing child pornography and, in one case, making child pornography.

In addition to those arrests, police announced that the U.S.-based Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is helping the Ottawa police internet child exploitation unit with "a 34-year-old suspect residing in the U.S., wanted for luring offences and encouraging suicide against a child victim in the Ottawa area," according to a news release issued Wednesday.

Child still alive

Asked for more information, Ottawa police would say only that the alleged victim did not take their own life, and that HSI will take the lead on the arrest and any search warrants. The investigation is active and ongoing, and so far no charges have been laid.

HSI is an investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and operates offices around the world, including in Ottawa.

The nature of the accusations against the man resemble the case of Carleton University student Nadia Kajouji, who died by suicide in Ottawa in 2008.

A former Minnesota nurse posed as a woman online to communicate with Kajouji, 20, and a British man, both of whom ended up taking their own lives. He was criminally convicted in both cases, but in 2015, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed his conviction for attempting to assist Kajouji's suicide.

Awareness campaign

As part of a bid to raise awareness of child exploitation, Ontario Provincial Police released figures from the month of November.

During that 30-day stretch, OPP and its 26 regional partners across Ontario — including Ottawa police — laid 551 charges against 122 people. As well, 55 alleged child victims were identified and referred for help, OPP said.

Investigators say those arrested include past and present teachers, emergency services personnel, military members and others active in local communities.

They say officers identified 834 unique IP addresses accessing child pornography during November alone, and described that figure as "the tip of the iceberg."

Need help? Here are some mental health resources in the National Capital Region:

  • Ottawa Suicide Prevention: 613-238-3311
  • Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)

With files from the Canadian Press