Toronto police Det. Const. Janelle Blackadar said the undercover investigation resulted in other suspects being identified who used social media platforms to share and engage in child pornography, one of which was a live-stream of a sexual abuse of a 6-year-old. Blackadar says the alleged abuser was doing it for the sexual gratification of himself and for those online, "who actively encouraged the abuse while it was happening live".
Officers here began an undercover investigation that resulted in the arrest of Marc Leonard on related offences and police say the 41-year-old has since been convicted.
Toronto police say an global child sex abuse investigation has resulted in 153 arrests, including 16 arrests in Canada and seven in Toronto.
37-year-old Paul Edward Acton Bowen was arrested yesterday and charged with second-degree sodomy, enticing a child to enter a vehicle or house for immoral purposes, and second-degree sex abuse of a minor.
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Police said during a press conference in Toronto that the National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom first started the investigation in 2014 when they were looking into an online group allegedly involved in the sexual abuse of children.
The results of a three-year-investigation, dubbed Project Mercury, were announced by investigators from Canada, the United Kingdom and the U.S.at a news conference in Toronto Thursday. The offender was identified as Kenneth Bowman, 34, of Saskatoon who pleaded guilty to a number of child sex abuse charges. The child was rescued after the suspect was arrested. The news release Thursday names 14 Canadians, seven from Toronto.
"But it very important that we talk about it", he said.
In recounting the details, Toronto Police Staff-Supt.
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Ellis said British police also prevented a child from being adopted by an offender and removed another from foster care. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Melissa Ruiz, attaché for Homeland Security Investigations in Ottawa, commended everyone involved in Project Mercury, adding their efforts have led to the arrests of approximately 58 suspected predators in the U.S.
In all, Project Mercury involved 23 USA states, as well as the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Ireland, Denmark, Belgium and Slovenia.
Blackadar said technology has multiplied the potential for the sexual abuse of children and she said investigators are urging anyone with a sexual interest in children to come forward to police or health professionals to receive treatment rather than consuming child sex abuse material.
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