Among the numerous victims of an Eckville man convicted of sexually abusing children as young as two were his own family members.
Over nearly a decade, the 35-year-old man took hundreds of photos and videos of children, including a co-worker’s child and young friends of a female family member, who were visting or at sleepovers.
He recorded himself sexual assaulting or molesting children many times, sharing some of the images on online child pornography sites.
The man’s name cannot be published to protect the identities of his victims, who ranged in age from two to 10 years old.
For more than an hour, special Crown prosecutor Carolyn Ayre read into the record the disturbing facts behind the 26 charges the man pleaded guilty to in October, including multiple counts of sexual assault; sexual contact with a minor; sexually counselling a minor; possession of child pornography; making, printing or publishing child porn and voyeurism.
Armed with his phone, the sexual predator stalked children and took lewd photos of them in stores, at the beach, Canada Day celebrations and at West Edmonton Mall’s Galaxyland, Red Deer provincial court Judge Jim Hunter heard on Friday.
When arrested in January, police searched his phone and laptop, finding more than 300,000 images on one hard drive alone.
A small group of people sat in the gallery listening to the terrible litany of crimes. Several could listen no longer after a while and left the courtroom.
The man behind all of these crimes appeared through a closed-circuit video link with the Calgary Remand Centre. Wearing prison blue coveralls, he showed little emotion except for a short period when he hung his head and appeared to wipe away tears.
Ayre asked the judge to order a psychological assessment to see if the man meets the criteria to be declared a dangerous or long-term offender.
The sexual offender shows a “pattern of repetitious behaviour.” Whether he is deemed a dangerous or long-term offender will be based on factors such as his likelihood to pose a danger to the public or to control his sexual impulses, she said.
When someone is declared a dangerous offender, the judge can order an indeterminate prison sentence, a set prison sentence, or a sentence with a long-term supervision order.
The judge could also declare him a long-term offender, which calls for a sentence of at least two years, plus up to 10 years of long-term supervision.
The man’s crimes came to light after Australian police involved in a project focused on tracking down online child sexual exploitation predators identified a Canadian using a photo sharing site used by child pornographers.
Southern Alberta Child Sexual Exploitation Unit was tipped off and they began investigating. Further help came from the U.S.-based National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, a non-profit group dedicated to preventing child victimization.
Investigators were able to track various online aliases used by the Eckville man to locate and arrest him.
The case returns to court on Feb. 12, when the psychological assessment is expected to be completed.