A 54-year-old Red Deer man has been charged with multiple child sexual exploitation offences.
Stuart Peter Hunt was arrested on Jan. 17th by ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit. His home was also searched and a number of electronic devices were seized after an investigation that initially began in May 2017.
Hunt has been released from police custody and will appear in court again on Feb. 16th.
The investigation began with online child pornography crimes but sexual exploitation offences against children were then uncovered.
Several victims, who were known to the accused, were identified and ICE believes there could be more and that offences conceivably could date back over 20 years.
ALERT Communication Manager Mike Tucker said Hunt is currently the only suspect in this investigation and the charges stem from one victim, however more were identified.
“These particular offences we are discussing here today took place fairly recently, however our investigators believe many of these offences took place over a number of years — dating back as far as 20 years ago,” Tucker said.
Hunt is not employed in a position of trust or authority and has ties to the communities of Red Deer, Oyen, Three Hills, Sylvan Lake and Didsbury.
ALERT did not want to identify the social media platform used by Hunt at this time; the reason being to not narrow down the scope of their ongoing investigation
Current charges against Hunt include possessing child pornography, accessing child pornography, distributing child pornography, making child pornography, sexual assault, sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and making sexually explicit material available to a child.
The investigation began in Jan. 2017 when the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre was notified of a social media user allegedly uploading child pornography. The case was then referred to ICE.
ICE is currently looking to identify other possible victims and the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Sgt. Kirt Murray at 403 581 1090 or they can submit information anonymously to cybertip.ca.
“This is a burden that victims have had to live with for far too long,” Tucker said. “We understand the difficulties of coming forward. Your courage in coming forward can help ensure that no other child is harmed again.”
Tucker added it is important for parents to be diligent.
“In a case like this where the assailant is known to the victim, we really emphasize the need for parents to have those conversations with their children. As uncomfortable and as unsettling as a case like this many be, it is important to open that dialogue,” he said.