Two Sault men charged in major child sexual abuse investigation

Two Sault Ste. Marie residents were arrested following a province-wide child exploitation investigation that resulted in 64 people being charged overall.

Timothy Allen, 38, is being charged with possession of child pornography (two counts), whereas Clinton Aikens, 27, is facing charges related to possession of child pornography, luring a person under 16 and making available child pornography (five counts).

Both men were released from custody following their arrest in February, according to a Wednesday news release from the OPP.

Allen is scheduled to appear in court on May 27 and Aikens is set to make a court appearance on June 3.

The OPP conducted this massive child exploitation sting operation, dubbed Project Aquatic, between Feb. 19 and Feb. 29, with investigators identifying and arresting those making, possessing and distributing child sexual abuse material.

During the investigation, one individual set up a meeting with undercover investigators intending to meet with a child in real life for a sexual purpose.

Another individual was in possession of approximately 21 terabytes of data containing child sexual abuse material.

As a result of Project Aquatic, police made 64 arrests, identified 34 victims, seized 607 electronic devices and laid 348 charges overall.

Outside of the Sault, the individuals arrested during Project Aquatic hail from communities such as Guelph, Greater Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Hamilton, Windsor, Toronto, Niagara Falls, London and Kingston.

OPP officials said the success of this massive operation is due in part to the Provincial Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Strategy, which has completed 82,082 investigations between 2006 and 2023 (resulting in 29,025 charges being laid against 7,493 individuals).

"Our collective strength lies in our ongoing commitment to protect children from the impacts of sexual exploitation," OPP commissioner Thomas Carrique said in Wednesday's news release.

"Through the Provincial ICE Strategy, we stand together in supporting victims, preventing victimization, and dismantling predatory activities. We are unrelenting in our mission to safeguard children and hold perpetrators accountable."

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Kyle Darbyson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sault Star