Toronto

Internet cops arrest man after witnessing child abuse live online

An undercover police officer alleges he caught a man sexually assaulting a young child in southern Ontario live on the internet.

An undercover police officer alleges he caught a man sexually assaulting ayoung childin southern Ontario live on the internet.

"You think you've seen everything, but at that moment what I recall is my heart racing out of control, sweating and thinking I was going to throw up," said Det. Const. Paul Krawczyk in a news conference held Thursday morning.

Krawczyk, whohas worked withToronto's world-renowned child exploitation unit for four years, said it was the first time officers in the unit have ever seen abuse unfold in real time on the web.

The undercover officer said he was posing as a pedophile and chatting online with a man in St. Thomas, south of London.

Then the man allegedly begantaking images of the child, reportedly a preschool-age girl, andimmediately sending themprivately over the internetto the officer.

"I wanted to reach through the monitor and grab the child," said Krawczyk.

Officers in the child exploitation unit see these types of images all the time, he said, "but to see this child and look in that child's eyes and realize that child was live somewhere and that we had the possibility to save the child right then —it's difficult to describe."

Three police forces co-operate in rescue

Within moments of realizing he was apparently watching the assault live, Krawczyk called the Ontario Provincial Police, who then contacted police in St. Thomas.

Given an approximate location, the local police managed to track down and rescue the girl from the home two hours after the first phone call.

The St. Thomas man, who has not been named to protect the victim's identity, was arrested and charged with a number of child pornography-related offences.

Toronto police commended the St. Thomas police for their "extraordinary job" in locating the girl.

The victim is now safe with members of her family, police said. Child and Family Services has been involved in the case, said Krawczyk.

The alleged live sexual assault happened on Oct. 29, but Toronto police had beenfollowing the accused for 10 months, after receiving digital photos of a child over the internet in the months of January and October.

Krawczyk issued a stern warning to pedophiles lurking on the internet or those thinking of committing such acts.

"We are on the internet 24/7. We know where you go," he said. "We will find you and we will arrest you."

But he added thatthis type of liveonline capture of an assault is likely to increase, especially with the rising number of people who own digital cameras.

The St. Thomas man has been charged with:

  • Three counts of making child pornography.
  • Two counts of sexual assault.
  • Two counts of sexual interference.
  • One count of possession of child pornography for the purpose of distribution.
  • One count of distributing child pornography.
  • One count of possessing child pornography.
  • One count of invitation to sexual touching.

He was scheduled to appear in the Ontario court of justice in St. Thomas on Thursday morning.