ATHABASCA – An Athabasca man is among 26 Albertans charged this summer with “offences related to online child sexual exploitation.”
Michael Courtepatte, 44, of Athabasca, was one of the men named in a Sept. 30 media release from Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT). It reported ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit (ICE) made the arrests across the province between June 20 and Sept. 17, teaming up with local police agencies, including the Athabasca RCMP Detachment, to lay 63 charges.
“ICE investigates offences involving child pornography, any computer-related child sexual abuse, child luring over the Internet, voyeurism involving victims under the age of 18, and child sex trade/tourism.
“Most of the arrests came as the result of investigative referrals from the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Crime Centre, which works with Internet and social media providers to track and investigate online instances of child sexual exploitation,” stated the release.
The release went on to say there is no definitive link between the individuals or their crimes, but that each had been charged with “at least one child pornography offence.” It goes on to speculate the rise in investigative referrals may be part of a digital dependency related to COVID-19 isolation measures.
“On behalf of all law-abiding Albertans, I thank ALERT and the law enforcement organizations across the province that worked tirelessly to arrest and charge these criminals. Alberta’s justice system is here for all Albertans, especially for children victimized by sexual predators,” said Kaycee Madu, Alberta’s Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, in the media release.
ALERT CEO Supt. Dwayne Lakustra noted: “The internet isn’t anonymous and these arrests demonstrate ALERT’s willingness to travel to all corners of the province to make arrests, put predators behind bars, and keep kids safe,” said Supt. Dwayne Lakusta, ALERT Chief Executive Officer.
More information will be reported when it becomes available.