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Computers seized in police search of southern Alberta home contained almost half a million images and videos depicting child sex abuse.
A southern Alberta mother and her partner have been charged with sexually assaulting the woman’s pre-pubescent son.
The 34-year-old Lethbridge woman and a man, 41, whose names are being withheld to protect the child’s identity, are also charged with producing child pornography related to the alleged assaults.
“When a child’s own mother commits these offences, your heart just breaks,” said Mike Tucker, spokesman for the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT).
After receiving a tip from the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, the man was arrested following a search of a home on Sept. 19 in the Lethbridge region, southeast of Calgary, where a large quantity of child pornography was identified.
Police say he’d been uploading child pornography on Facebook.
“A forensic analysis of computers seized … identified nearly half a million photos and videos of child sexual abuse materials,” states an ALERT press release.
“Amongst this vast collection, the Internet Child Exploitation team (ICE) identified a series of materials that they believed were unique and possibly created by the accused.”
Those images allegedly included those of the young boy and led investigators to the child’s mother, who was arrested Nov. 2 after a search of her Lethbridge home.
“ICE believes that the two suspects were in a previous relationship and sexually assaulted the child, in addition to sharing child sexual abuse materials,” said ALERT.
Authorities believe the boy had been sexually abused for several months earlier this year, said Tucker.
“This child has been rescued and provided with a number of support services,” he said.
“It’s been a traumatic experience for (the boy) but at least the healing process can begin, it’s going be an uphill struggle for the rest of (his) life.”
The woman is charged with sexual assault, sexual interference and possessing, making and distributing child pornography.
The man is charged with sexual assault and making, possessing and accessing child pornography.
Both have been released from custody, with the man to appear in Taber court on Jan. 16 and the woman’s case to be heard in Lethbridge court on Jan. 19.
Assisting in the investigation were the Taber Police Service, Lethbridge police, Medicine Hat police, and Vauxhall RCMP.
Instances of child sexual abuse, including those involving pornography, are becoming increasingly apparent, said Tucker.
“We’re definitely seeing a sharp increase in the number of child exploitation offences,” he said.
Police are urging anyone with knowledge of child exploitation to contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
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