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.”

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The man’s partner, a 22-year-old man, also allegedly abused children his partner accessed through deceptive means in his personal life.

Australian Federal Police
(Image source: https://www.afp.gov.au)

Operation Arkstone

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.

Australian Federal Police arrest 30-year-old
(Image source: https://www.afp.gov.au)

“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.

Australian Federal Police carry out a search warrant.
(Image source: https://www.afp.gov.au)
Australian Federal Police carry out a search warrant.
(Image source: https://www.afp.gov.au)

READ MORE in Latest News:

SAPS Emergency Services 10111
Toll-free Crime Stop number 086 00 10111
GBV Command Centre Contact the 24-hour Gender Based Violence Command Centre toll-free number 0800 428 428 to report abuse
STOP Gender Violence Helpline Tel: 0800 150 150/ *120*7867#
South African Police Service Report all cases of rape, sexual assault or any form of violence to a local police station or call the toll-free Crime Stop number: 086 00 10111
Legal Aid South Africa Call the toll-free Legal Aid Advice Line 0800110 110 for free legal aid if you cannot afford one
Commission for Gender Equality Report Gender Discrimination and Abuse: 0800 007 709
South African Human Rights Commission Call 011 877 3600 to lodge a complaint about human rights violations.
Domestic violence Helpline Stop Women Abuse: 0800 150 150
AIDS Helpline 0800 012 322
The Warrior Project FREE legal helpline for victims of domestic abuse: 0860 333 353
People Opposed to Woman Abuse(Powa) http://www.powa.co.za, Tel: 011 642 4345
Child Welfare South Africa http://childwelfaresa.org.za/, Tel: 074 080 8315
Childline South Africa http://www.childlinesa.org.za/, Tel: 0800 055 555
Families South Africa (Famsa) http://www.famsaorg.mzansiitsolutions.co.za/, Tel: 011 975 7106/7
Tears Foundation http://www.tears.co.za/, Free SMS helpline: *134*7355#, Tel: 010 590 5920
The Trauma Centre http://www.trauma.org.za/, Tel: 021 465 7373
Thuthuzela Care Centres http://isssasa.org.za/