Kingston, Ont., tech figure ID'd as man charged in child pornography, human trafficking case

CBC News has learned the Kingston, Ont., man facing a long list of charges including human trafficking, sexual assault and making child pornography has been a figure in the city's tech industry for several years. 

'A prominent Kingston figure with influence. It's a terrifying thing,' victim says

A portrait of a man who is smiling.
Michael Mark Haaima is pictured here in a profile photo once featured on the now-defunct website for a company he reportedly owned, Ferus Media. (Ferus Media / Internet Archive)

A Kingston, Ont., man facing 76 charges including human trafficking, sexual assault and making child pornography was a "prominent" figure in the city's tech sector for the past several years, according to one of his 18 alleged victims. 

Michael Mark Haaima, 37, was arrested in April on charges that were only announced by police on Monday.

One victim, whose identity is shielded by a publication ban, told CBC News Haaima was a well-known member of the tech industry.

"Makes it all the more messed up," she said by text. "A prominent Kingston figure with influence. It's a terrifying thing."

According to an article published in ReFINEd Kingston Magazine, Haaima began a one-person web design company named Ferus Media in 2011 before partnering with others to officially launch Aviio Digital in early 2018.

The latter company, which operated from downtown Kingston, worked in web design, e-commerce, search engine optimization, brand development and digital marketing, according to the article. 

Before going into business himself, Haaima spent several years working at Kingston design firms, the article also said.

Victim doing 'what I can to move past it'

While court records obtained by CBC specifically name 10 victims in Haaima's case, a total of 18 victims have been identified, with the potential for more victims to come forward, according to OPP. 

The alleged offences involve at least two underage victims, according to court records.

The charges against Haaima include 18 counts of sexual assault, five counts of unlawfully accessing child pornography and four counts of forcible confinement, as well as (but not limited to):

  • Sexual assault with choking.
  • Compulsions to commit bestiality.
  • Procuring a person under 18 years old.
  • Trafficking a person under 18 years old. 
  • Uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm.
  • Luring for making child pornography.
  • Making child pornography.
  • Extortion.
  • Criminal harassment.
  • Overcoming resistance by choking.
  • Voyeurism.

While police say 76 charges have been laid, court records detailed only 60 offences. CBC News has reached out to OPP, Kingston Police and the courthouse for clarification.

Another victim, who also can't be named because of the publication ban, said via text that it's been "a tough ride" since she made her report to police.

"I'm doing what I can to move past it," she said.

The investigation into Haaima began in January 2022 after Kingston Police received complaints that someone was allegedly using social media to lure victims.

A portrait of a man.
Haaima was photographed along with co-workers for an early 2018 article about another company he was involved in, Aviio Digital, in early 2018. (ReFINEd Kingston Magazine)

Haaima's bail was denied in early May, but the Ontario Superior Court of Justice confirmed on Tuesday that Haaima has applied for a review of whether he should be released from custody. No date for that hearing has yet been set.

On Tuesday afternoon, Haaima made his first provincial court appearance since the charges were announced publicly. His next provincial court appearance is scheduled for July 19. 

With files from Michelle Allan, Dan Taekema, Avanthika Anand and Guy Quenneville