WA man charged with alleged online child grooming

Child_Exploitation

This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police and Western Australia Police

A 31-year-old man accused of trying to sexually groom a teenage girl through social media is expected to face Perth Magistrate's Court today (12 March 2021) charged with two offences.

The Western Australia Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (WA JACET) will allege the man believed he was speaking online to a 14-year-old girl in New South Wales, but it was actually a covert police officer posing as a child.

The man allegedly suggested meeting the girl in Sydney for a sexual encounter and sent her adult pornography.

WA JACET, which comprises AFP and WA Police Force officers, launched an investigation after NSW Police reported the allegedly sexually explicit conversations.

A 31-year-old Safety Bay man was identified as the suspected user of the social media account and a warrant was executed at his Safety Bay home last month (February 2021).

Police allegedly found records of some of the sexually explicit chat on his mobile phone and seized it for further review.

The man has been charged with:

  • Use a carriage service to groom a child under 16 years of age for sexual activity, contrary to section 474.27(1) of the Criminal Code Act (Cth);
  • Use a carriage service to transmit indecent material to a child under 16 years, contrary to section 474.27A of the Criminal Code Act (Cth).

The maximum penalty for the grooming offence is 15 years' imprisonment, and seven years' imprisonment for the transmitting offence.

AFP Commander John Tanti said it was fortunate that on this occasion, there was not a young girl being exposed to adult pornography or groomed to meet an adult who was planning to abuse them.

"This arrest is also a warning to any adult who wants to prey on children online – you may not be talking to a vulnerable child; you could be talking to a police officer," Commander Tanti said. "The AFP and WA Police work closely with our partners around the country and overseas to protect children from sexual exploitation, expose predatory behaviour and bring offenders to justice."

Commander Tanti also urged parents and carers to remind children not to talk to or meet up with anyone they have only known online, or tell those online 'friends' any personal information that could help someone find them.

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.

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 National 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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