Child Luring

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.

Supreme Court Rules a Crucial Element of Child Luring Law is Unconstitutional

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

Last month the highest court in Canada ruled that a provision in the law forbidding the luring of children over the internet is unconstitutional and ordered a new trial for alleged offender Douglas Morrison (“Morrison”).  This decision may result in a number of child luring convictions being overturned across Canada.

In this landmark decision regarding the validity of child luring laws in Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down two parts of the child luring laws found under section 172.1 of the Criminal Code.  The decision in R. v. Morrison will affect those cases where police officers pretend to be minors in an effort to apprehend suspected online predators.

WHAT IS THE CHILD LURING LAW IN CANADA?

The offence of child luring in Canada can be found in section 172.1 of the Criminal Code.  Child luring is defined as using the internet to communicate with an individual who is, or who the perpetrator believes to be, under the age of 18 for the purposes of committing the offence of sexual exploitation, incest, child pornography or sexual assault. 

You may also be charged with child luring if you communicate with an individual you know, or believe to be, under the age of 16 for the purposes of committing the offence of sexual exploitation, invitation to sexual touching, indecent exposure to a person under the age of 16 or abduction of a person under 16 years old.

If the Crown chooses to proceed by indictment (more serious offences) and you are found guilty of child luring, you will face a minimum of one year in prison, up to a maximum of 14 years in prison.  If the Crown chooses to proceed summarily (less serious offences), you will face a minimum of 6 months in jail, up to a maximum of 2 years less a day.

WHAT HAPPENED IN R. v. MORRISON?

Morrison was charged with child luring under section 172.1 of the Criminal Code.  He posted an online ad on Craigslist pursuing sexual conversations and stating he was interested in younger girls.  His ad was entitled “Daddy looking for his little girl”. 

Over the course of two months, police posed as a 14 year old girl named “Mia”.  Morrison began a sexual discussion with Mia, requested that she touch herself sexually, suggested she watch pornography, asked her for photographs, and arranged to pick Mia up after school (the encounter never occurred).  Consequently, Morrison was charged with child luring. 

During his trial, Morrison argued that he believed he was speaking to an adult online who was role playing as a character of a 14 year old girl.  He maintained that the rules on Craigslist require that users are to be 18 years old or older.  He was convicted at trial and the conviction was upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA?

On appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, Morrison brought three Charter of Rights and Freedoms (“Charter”) challenges pertaining to section 172.1 of the Criminal Code. The Charter arguments before the court were the following:

  • Section 172.1(3) violated his right to be presumed innocent under section 11(d) of the Charter;
  • Section 172.1(4) contains presumptions (requiring a person to take reasonable steps to ascertain the age of the individual they are contacting and to ensure he/she is not underage) that were not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice and violated section 7 of the Charter, which protects the right to life, liberty and security of a person; and
  • Section 172.1(2)(b) contains a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison which violated the guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment found in section 12 of the Charter.

The Supreme Court of Canada overturned Morrison’s conviction citing errors made by the trial judge.  The Court ruled unanimously that the government’s wording of the child luring law violates the presumption of innocence guaranteed by the Charter.  It is the role of the Crown to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an accused genuinely believed he/she was communicating with an individual who was underage.

Justice Michael Moldaver, writing for the majority of the Court, stated:

In short, there is but one pathway to conviction: proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused believed the other person was underage.  Nothing less will suffice.

The accused, in his/her defence, may prove that he/she took “reasonable” steps to determine if the alleged victim was underage.  If this cannot be shown, then the accused cannot argue that he/she believed the alleged victim was of legal age.

The Supreme Court was also asked to consider the appeal by the Crown that Morrison was not given the mandatory one-year minimum sentence.  The trial judge gave Morrison a four month sentence, and ruled that the one year mandatory minimum sentence found in the Criminal Code was unconstitutional as it violated the guarantees found in the Charter against cruel and unusual punishment. However, the majority of the justices did not rule on this issue.

Given the potential ramifications resulting from the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R. v. Morrison, we will continue to follow any developments in the news and the case law and will report any updates that become available in this blog.

In the meantime, if you are facing child luring charges or have any questions regarding your legal rights, please contact the knowledgeable criminal defence lawyers at Affleck & Barrison LLP online or at 905-404-1947.  Our skilled criminal lawyers have significant experience defending a wide range of criminal charges and protecting our client’s rights.  For your convenience, we offer a 24-hour telephone service.  We are available when you need us most.

47 Suspects Charged in Nationwide Human Trafficking Investigation

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

Twenty sex workers suspected of working against their will, were rescued earlier this month as a result of Operation Northern Spotlight, a massive cross-Canada human trafficking investigation. Most of those rescued are under 19, and some are as young as 14.

Over the past year, Canadian police forces worked with the FBI in a coordinated effort to fight human traffickers. The OPP spearheaded the latest phase of the operation, which involved more than 350 officers and staff from 40 police agencies across Canada. The investigation led to the arrest of 47 people who are facing more than 130 charges including trafficking in persons, forcible confinement, child pornography, and sexual assault with a weapon.

U.S law enforcement agencies conducted Operation Cross Country, a similar operation south of the border, which resulted in the arrest of more than 150 “pimps” and the rescue of 152 minors.

Human Trafficking and Related Charges 

The charges laid in Phase 5 of Operation Northern Spotlight included:

  • Trafficking in Persons under 18
  • Trafficking in Persons
  • Procure Sexual Services under 18
  • Procure Sexual Services
  • Receive Material Benefit under 18
  • Receive Material Benefit
  • Communicate for the Purpose of Obtaining for Consideration the Sexual Services of a Person
  • Exercise Control
  • Make Child Pornography
  • Distribute Child Pornography
  • Possess Child Pornography
  • Child Luring
  • Advertise Another Person’s Sexual Services
  • Assault
  • Obstruct Police
  • Resist Arrest
  • Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA) offences

Human Trafficking in Canada 

Human trafficking charges can be laid against any person who recruits, transports, transfers, receives, holds, conceals, or harbours a person, or any person who exercises control, direction, or influence over the movements of a person for the purposes of exploiting them, or facilitating their exploitation for a forced labour or sexual reason.

If you are facing a human trafficking or related charge, contact us online or at 905-404-1947 to speak with an experienced criminal defence lawyer. We take all steps needed to protect your best interests, both immediate and long term. We maintain a 24-hour emergency service line, and our office is within steps of the Durham Consolidated Courthouse.  We offer a free confidential consultation to all perspective clients.