Melbourne man who posed online as a 19-year-old woman facing child exploitation charges

This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police.

A 57-year-old man who allegedly shared child abuse material online is expected to appear in Melbourne Magistrate's Court today (19 February 2021).

The Victorian Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team arrested the Lysterfield man last week (12 February 2021), after an investigation sparked by information from US Homeland Security Investigations (HIS). 

HSI alerted the Australian Federal Police (AFP) that a person suspected to be in Australia had shared images of children being sexually abused to an online social media chat group named 'Sharing is Caring' - after a related arrest in Boston, Massachusetts.  

Investigations by the AFP resulted in the identification of the 57-year-old man as the suspected user of the account – which was purporting to belong to a 19-year-old female.

The Victorian JACET, which comprises AFP and Victoria Police officers, executed a search warrant at the man's Lysterfield home last Friday evening (12 February 2021).

They allegedly found details of online accounts associated with the alleged offending. 

Police seized a mobile phone and other electronic devices, which continue to be forensically examined.

The man was bailed to appear before the Melbourne Magistrates Court today, charged with:

  • Transmitting child abuse material using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22(1)(a)(iii) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)   
  •  Possessing or controlling child abuse material using a carriage service, contrary to section 474.22A(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) 

If convicted, the maximum penalty for these offences is 15 years imprisonment.

AFP Child Protection Operations Detective Superintendent Paula Hudson said police acted swiftly to identify the alleged user of the account and protect any children victimised by the alleged offending.

 "These investigations are another example of Australian law enforcement's dedication to working alongside its international law enforcement partners to protect children, and ensure those suspected of producing child abuse material were detected and prosecuted.

"The consumption, production and dissemination of child abuse material has horrific lifelong impacts on its victims," she said.  The AFP, together with our international partners will continue to work tirelessly to protect the most vulnerable in our community – our children."

Members of the public who have any information about 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.

EDITOR'S NOTE:

Media are reminded it is an offence to publish or broadcast details which may identify a victim of a sexual offence, including the age of the victim or how the offender had access to a child.

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.

Media enquiries

AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297

National Security Hotline

Read the AFP Annual Report 2019-20

The Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation

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