Child Exploitation

Multiple Child Exploitation Charges Laid Across Ontario

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

Despite the pandemic that is affecting those living in Ontario and across the globe, the sexual exploitation of children continues to be a problem.  Between May 4 and May 8 a number of warrants were issued across Ontario and five individuals were charged with over 22 Criminal Code offences related to sexual interest in children.

RECENT ARRESTS AND CHARGES

The recent arrests and charges that took place in Ontario show that offenders can be made up of those in all age groups, employment and social economic class. 

Tanner Raymond, 22 years of age from Quinte West, was charged with possession of child pornography and with making available child pornography.

Simon Yalkezian, 33 years old from Cobourg, was charged with five counts of making available child pornography, accessing child pornography and possession of child pornography.

Twenty-five year old James Aldworth, also from Cobourg, was charged with four counts of child luring, transmission of explicit material to a child and with indecent exposure to a child.

A 42-year-old woman from Trenton, who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the victim, was charged with making child pornography and two counts of possession of child pornography.

Finally, a 17-year-old young man from Haldimand was released to his parents and cannot be named according to provisions under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.  He was charged with voyeurism, making available child pornography, possession of child pornography and with distribution of intimate images without consent.

CHILD EXPLOITATION CONTINUES DESPITE THE PANDEMIC

These recent arrests are indicative of the fact that child exploitation continues in Ontario despite the pandemic and the emergency orders set in place by the government.

As families continue to self-isolate in our homes, children are spending more and more time on the internet and are more often than not unsupervised.  There is an increased risk that children will encounter those with ill intent online.

It is highly recommended that parents speak to their children regularly about the risks and safety concerns of using the internet.  The website ProtectKidsOnline.ca can offer parents and guardians assistance to help their children use the internet safely.

CRIMINAL CODE PROTECTIONS

Canada’s Criminal Code provides a number of provisions related to the protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation and includes the following specific offences:

  • All forms of child pornography, which include possessing, accessing, making and distributing child pornography;
  • The use of the internet to communicate with a child for the purpose of luring or facilitating the commission of a sexual or abduction offence;
  • All forms of sexual contact/touching or any invitation to engage in sexual touching;
  • The offering up or procurement of a child for illicit sexual activity, including prostitution.

As Canadian youth continue to use the internet in records numbers, their behaviours raise the risk of online sexual exploitation.  Behaviours such as sharing personal information over the internet, emailing or posting photos online, chatting online with strangers and visiting adult-content websites and chat rooms.

The website Cybertip.ca was adopted as a partner to Canada’s National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the internet in 2004 and was officially regarded as Canada’s national tip-line in 2005.  This website receives and addresses reports of sexual exploitation of children, particularly on the internet, in the form of child luring and child pornography.  Those reports that are possible violations of the Criminal Code are forwarded to the police for further investigation.

According to Catherine Tabak, Cybertip.ca program manager, the tip line has seen a 40% spike since the pandemic began in Canada.  Approximately 98% of the reports involve online child sexual images or videos.  The reports regarding possible suspect/victim information are in regards to the offences of sextortion, luring and grooming offences, as well as youth being exposed to sexually explicit materials.

CHILD PORNOGRAPHY DETECTED BY CANADIAN BOT

A Canadian robot called “Arachnid” detects 10,824 new images of child pornography on the internet every 12 hours.  The robot, run by the Canadian Center for Child Protection (“CCPE”), scans the internet for images and videos of child pornography through digital fingerprints.  When detected, the robot sends a warning to the host requesting immediate removal.  CCPE analysts also review each detected image. 

Hosts that are hesitant to comply with the request for removal are considered to be contributing to the perpetuation of the victimization of children online. 

Since launching two and half years ago, Archanid has detected more than 9 million suspected images related to child pornography.  More than 4 million requests for content removal have been made to hosts around the world.

If you are facing sexual offence charges or have questions regarding your legal rights, please contact the experienced criminal defence lawyers at Affleck & Barrison LLP online or at 905-404-1947.  We offer a 24-hour phone service to protect your rights and to ensure that you have access to justice at all times.  We are available when you need us most.

Canadian Degrassi High Actor Arrested on Child Pornography Charges

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

A former Degrassi High actor and three Ontario women are facing multiple charges, including possessing child pornography, sexual assault, and bestiality.

Jason (Byrd) Dickens, his wife, Dylan Anne McEwen, and two other women were recently arrested following a months long probe by police. Police stated that they initially received a tip about a man uploading inappropriate images online in January 2016. This led to a search warrant in late April, at which time police discovered several devices containing videos and images.

Police believe that Mr. Dickens and Ms. McEwen actively sought out victims online and in person, going by several user names including: RetroDeviant, Byrd_Dawg and Sir Dirk (Mr. Dickens), and Doll, Dirty Doll (Ms. McEwen). Mr. Dickens and Ms. McEwen will appear in Toronto court on Sept. 1.

Police also believe that between January 2000 and January 2006, Mr. Dickens and another woman sexually abused a child and distributed child pornography online. The woman is charged with 10 child sexual exploitation offences, and Mr. Dickens faces six more charges in that case.

Additionally, police allege that Mr. Dickens met a third woman from Thunder Bay, who also faces one charge of making child pornography.

Police are concerned that the individuals may have had contact with “like-minded individuals” and there may be more victims.

Potential Consequences

It is unclear what the outcome of these charges will be. However, child pornography charges are taken very seriously by prosecutors and police.

Child pornography is defined as any media (photo, film, other) that depicts sexual activity with, or that displays the sexual regions of, a person under the age of 18 (Criminal Code of Canada, s. 163.1(1)).  It is a crime to make, publish, or print child pornography. It is also a separate offence to distribute, to possess or to access child pornography, including sharing on or downloading files from the internet.

In 2012, Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, imposed higher mandatory minimum penalties for making, distributing, possessing and accessing child pornography. Sentences for any individuals charged under s. 163.1 of the Criminal Code all carry mandatory minimum sentences, and no discharges, suspended sentences, or fines are available. Penalties include jail time, and a sex offender registration, which can remain on your record for your whole life.

Protecting Children from Child Pornography

Safeguards for those under 18 have been increasing in recent years. In 2011, the government passed Bill C-22, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service. The legislation is intended to keep pace with technology used to distribute and access such content. It requires Internet service providers (ISP’s) and others (for instance, Facebook, Google, Hotmail, etc) to report any incident of child pornography.

Under this legislation, anyone can inform an ISP or other entity that a website, hostpage, or email contains child pornography. The ISP or other entity must then report the address of the site, page, or email as soon as possible to a designated organization or the police.

To speak with an experienced criminal defence lawyer about your rights, please contact Affleck & Barrison LLP online or at 905-404-1947.