Wollongong man charged with sharing child abuse material online
A New South Wales man has been charged with seven counts of child abuse-related offences by the AFP. The Mount Pleasant man, 50, was scheduled to face Wollongong Local Court today (13 July 2022).
The investigation began in February 2021 when the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) received a report from the United States’ National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about an online user uploading child abuse material to social media platforms and adult chat sites.
AFP investigators allegedly linked the Mount Pleasant to the illegal online activity. A search warrant was executed at the man’s home on 24 March, 2022, with investigators seizing a desktop computer and multiple portable hard drives. Child abuse material was allegedly located on the devices during a forensic examination.
AFP Detective Superintendent Craig Bellis said the AFP was dedicated to protecting children from abuse and worked tirelessly to identify offenders.
“We will continue to do everything in our power to end the abhorrent industry that preys on our community’s most vulnerable – children,” Det-Supt Bellis said.
“Our message to offenders accessing or exchanging child abuse material is that we will track you down and ensure you face the full force of the law for your actions.”
The man was arrested yesterday (12 July, 2022) and charged with:
- Two counts of possessing or controlling child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
- Two counts of using a carriage service to access child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22(1)(a)(i) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
- Two counts of transmitting child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22(1)(a)(iii) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
- One count of soliciting child abuse material, contrary to section 474.22(1)(a)(iv) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
The maximum penalty for each offence is 15 years' imprisonment.
The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and the ACCCE is driving a collaborative national approach to combatting child abuse.
The ACCCE brings together specialist expertise and skills in a central hub, supporting investigations into online child sexual exploitation and developing prevention strategies focused on creating a safer online environment.
Members of the public who have information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.accce.gov.au/report. If you know abuse is happening right now or a child is at risk, call police immediately on 000.
Research conducted by the ACCCE in 2020 revealed only about half of parents talked to their children about online safety.
An award-winning podcast launched last year by the ACCCE 'Closing The Net' is working to change that, showcasing that knowledge is power and that our only chance to help prevent this issue is if we bring a 'whole-of-community' response.
The podcast series offers valuable tips and advice on how to keep kids safe online. Listen to the Closing The Net podcast on your favourite streaming platform.
If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available at www.accce.gov.au/support.
Advice and support for parents and carers about how they can help protect children online can be found at www.thinkuknow.org.au, an AFP-led education program designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation.
Note to media:
Use of term 'CHILD ABUSE' MATERIAL NOT 'CHILD PORNOGRAPHY'
The correct legal term is Child Abuse Material – the move to this wording was among amendments to Commonwealth legislation in 2019 to more accurately reflect the gravity of the crimes and the harm inflicted on victims.
Use of the phrase "child pornography" is inaccurate and benefits child sex abusers because it:
- indicates legitimacy and compliance on the part of the victim and therefore legality on the part of the abuser; and
- conjures images of children posing in 'provocative' positions, rather than suffering horrific abuse.
Every photograph or video captures an actual situation where a child has been abused.
AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297