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Sault police arrest one in province-wide crackdown on internet child exploitation

Project Maverick saw 428 charges being laid against 107 people across Ontario during the month of October
2020-08-04 City Police Stock BC
Sault Ste. Marie Police file photo. Brad Coccimiglio/SooToday

Members of the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service have made one arrest and are actively conducting four additional investigations as part of Ontario’s strategy to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation on the internet. 

Project Maverick saw 27 policing partners across the province conducting 255 investigations during the month of October, resulting in 428 charges being laid against 107 people. A total of 61 victims were identified and referred to appropriate community-based resources for assistance, with an additional 60 children being safeguarded as part of the province-wide crackdown. 

In Sault Ste. Marie, 31-year-old Greg Pearce was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography available. Pearce has since been released from custody on conditions, and a court date is pending. 

“Project Maverick confirms we all play a role in protecting the children in our communities. The online world will continue to play a vital role in society; however, we must ensure we are using every tool and partnership at our disposal to protect vulnerable young people from being victims of heinous acts online,” said Sault Ste. Marie Police Service Chief Hugh Stevenson in a news release issued Wednesday. “We will continue to proactively focus on anyone who is profiting or victimizing young people on the internet.”

There are 175 ongoing investigations across Ontario where additional charges may be laid. The investigations continue and anyone with information on these or any child exploitation investigations are asked to contact their local police. 

Report any instances of online child abuse to police or If a child is being harmed, call 9-1-1.

In all, 65,564 investigations have been completed and 24,608 charges have been laid against 6,540 people since the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet was launched in 2006. A total of 3,470 victims have been identified worldwide to date as a result of the provincial strategy.