A sexually exploited child has been saved and two people have been charged with sexual assault and making child pornography after images of an unclothed five-year-old Winnipeg victim were uploaded on social media.
Winnipeg police executed a search warrant in February after receiving a tip from a member of the public in December 2016 about a photo of a child that had been posted on Facebook. The five-year-old wasn't being abused in the photo but something about a naked child that age being photographed didn't feel right to the tipster who phoned police.
"I don't want you to make the leap that this was a flagrant, the kind of thing that I think goes through our minds here of what these images must be, but it was enough to alert that individual that a child was being exploited," said Const. Rob Carver.
Police began to investigate and ultimately two people were charged with a series of offences, including possessing and selling child porn.
"Somebody just saw something on social media, allowed us to start an investigation that ultimately resulted in the kind of resolution that our investigations cross their fingers and hope to get, which is a child now safe," said Carver.
Carver said investigators continued to sift through the photos and videos seized in the case and later uncovered evidence suggesting the two suspects had also allegedly sexually assaulted the five year old, who police said was the subject of images and videos.
Both suspects were re-arrested in April and charged with sexual assault, sexual interference, making child porn, and possession of child porn for the purpose of sale or distribution.
"The happy ending here is that this child is now safe," Carver said. "We don't always get to say that."
Police aren't identifying anything about the two accused, not their names, their gender, or even their relationship to one another or to the child, in order protect the identity of the young victim.
"I stand up here today because I feel and our investigators feel we've saved a child," said Carver. "Ultimately this is about that victim and anything that would go to identifying that victim would wreck some of the good work we have done so we don't want to do anything that would jeopardize that."
Information on Internet child exploitation can be found at Cybertip.ca.