Australia

Children rescued from alleged child sexual abuse in the Philippines following Victorian man's arrest

The 14 children were rescued on 7 May after the AFP International Command provided information to authorities in the Philippines. Source: Australian Federal Police

The children, aged between two and 17, were rescued in the Philippines earlier this month, according to the Australian Federal Police.

A Victorian man has been arrested and 14 children, aged between two and 17, rescued from alleged child sexual abuse in the Philippines as part of a joint police investigation. 

The children, six girls and eight boys, were rescued on 7 May after the Australian Federal Police International Command provided intelligence to authorities in the Philippines, AFP said in a statement on Monday. 

That intelligence came from an investigation into a 68-year-old man from regional Victoria, who was charged with possession of child abuse material in March. The maximum penalty for the offence is 15 years in prison. 

The children were aged between two and 17.
The children were aged between two and 17.
Australian Federal Police

Investigators from the Victorian Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team (JACET), including Victoria Police and AFP, referred this information to the international command, which passed it onto Philippines authorities. 

The information also led to the arrest of three women and a man in Bombom, Camarines Sur, for their alleged roles as facilitators of online child sexual abuse. 

Police allege a computer seized from the 68-year-old man contained child abuse material and records of online chat conversations facilitating 'pay-per-view' child abuse content in the Philippines. 

During their investigation, authorities in the Philippines also seized digital devices allegedly containing child sexual exploitation material, a sex toy, and several money transfer receipts showing foreigners as senders. 

The children have been placed in the care of a local social welfare office. 

AFP said the investigation into the 68-year-old man was linked to an earlier arrest by JACET of a man who was later charged with allegedly paying for live-distance child abuse. That arrest led to the rescue of nine children, aged between two and 16, and the arrest of a woman by Philippine authorities. 

AFP Commander Tom Hunter said the force stands ready to protect children wherever they are. 

“Our investigators are dedicated to protecting children in Australia from abuse and work with law enforcement across the world to do the same,” Commander Hunter said.

“Our message to offenders accessing or exchanging child abuse material online is that we will never stop trying to identify anyone involved in bringing harm to children and bringing them before the court.”

Philippine National Police Chief of the Women and Children Protection Centre Brigadier General Alessandro Abella said their work protecting children from online sexual exploitation "will not stop until we have arrested the last trafficker and abuser doing this vile crime". 

The Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Centre (PICACC) was started in February 2019. As of May this year, it has undertaken 119 operations which have led to the rescue of 386 victims and 88 suspects/ facilitators being charged. Thirteen offenders have been convicted. 

Of these, 149 rescues and 39 suspects being arrested/charged were a direct result from AFP International Command facilitating referrals from Australian investigations or intelligence. 

Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline crisis support on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (for young people aged 5 to 25). More information is available at Beyond Blue.org.au and lifeline.org.au.

Anyone seeking information or support relating to sexual abuse can contact Bravehearts on 1800 272 831 or Blue Knot on 1300 657 380.

Members of the public who have any information about 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.

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