TRIGGER WARNING: Child abuse. The following report may offend sensitive readers.
On Wednesday, Australian Federal Police reported that a massive collaborative investigation had led to the rescue of 46 victims of sexual abuse…
In a report, the police also confirmed that 14 men had been arrested on 828 charges of child exploitation, and bestiality charges related to four animals.
The alleged offenders ranged in age from 20 to 48 years. The positions of the alleged offenders varied from a child care worker, volunteer soccer coach, disability support worker, through to an electrician, supermarket employee and chef.
The child victims ranged in age from 16 months to 15 years, with an average age of eight years.
Charges laid against accused
“The alleged offenders are accused of producing and/or sharing child abuse material to an online network of Australian and overseas peers,” said the report. The arrests include a 27-year-old former childcare worker from New South Wales who is facing over 303 charges. The charges include “intercourse with a child under 10 years; indecent assault of a children under 16 years, and intentionally sexually touching a child under 10 years.”
The man’s partner, a 22-year-old man, also allegedly abused children his partner accessed through deceptive means in his personal life.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) Centre to Counter Child Exploitation launched “Operation Arkstone” after receiving information related to child exploitation in February. A 30-year-old Wyong man was identified and arrested in February 2020 and has since been charged with 89 counts of child abuse charges, including alleged contact offending of two children.
“Investigators delved further into the man’s activities and reviewed electronic evidence seized during the initial warrants,” said the report.
They discovered more alleged offenders and more children who were being abused.
Operation Arkstone investigators identified links through the online forums to alleged child sex offenders residing in Europe, Asia, United States and Canada, and New Zealand, with 146 international referrals made as a result of this investigation.
“Unprecedented scale of abuse”
AFP Acting Commander Child Protection Operations Christopher Woods said the scale of offending uncovered in the Operation Arkstone network was unprecedented in an AFP-led operation.
“No child should be subjected to abuse and violence from people who hold high positions of trust in their lives, whether it be a family member, child care worker or soccer coach,” said Woods.
“These men allegedly produced child abuse material for the depraved pleasure of their peers with absolutely no thought to the lasting effects their actions would have on these children.
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.