AFP investigation leads to arrest of man and rescue of a child in the U.S.

A 32-year-old American man has been arrested and a child removed from harm in the United States after police from the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) identified and tracked the man online.

The ACCCE notified Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) after the ACCCE Covert Online Engagement Unit (COEU) identified a user based in America allegedly producing and uploading images of a child on 18 March 2021.

The ACCCE report led to the immediate launch of an investigation by HSI, who partnered with the Kentucky State Police, to arrest a Kentucky man and rescue the child from further harm on 31 March 2021.

The man has been charged with 25 child abuse offences, which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment.

AFP Commander of the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation and Child Protection Operations Hilda Sirec said the AFP’s expertise stood ready to protect children online, regardless of where they were located.

“Our investigators at the ACCCE are dedicated to protecting children in Australia from abuse and work with law enforcement across the world to do the same,” Commander Sirec said.

“Our message to offenders accessing or exchanging child abuse material is that we will not stop investigating anyone responsible for spreading this abhorrent material and bringing them before the court.”

U.S. Homeland Security Investigations Attaché to Australia Adam Parks said the speed with which a child was removed from harm reflects the exceptional working relationship between HSI and the AFP.

“Despite the distance between the U.S. and Australia, our dedicated men and women are joined together in a solemn duty to protect the vulnerable. As demonstrated in this investigation, we will pursue justice wherever it leads and no matter the hour when confronted by these horrendous crimes,” Mr Parks said.

Members of the public who have any information about this network or people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

You can also make a report online by alerting the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation via the Report Abuse button.

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.

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