Whitecourt man faces more child sex charges after 8 new victims identified

·2 min read
The Snapchat messaging application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017.    (Thomas White/Reuters - image credit)
The Snapchat messaging application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. (Thomas White/Reuters - image credit)

A Whitecourt man charged with sexual assault last year after a child was lured using messaging apps Snapchat and Instagram is facing additional charges after eight more victims were identified.

After initial charges were laid against Kenneth Bardilas in October, new evidence led police into an extensive seven-month investigation, RCMP said in a news release Tuesday.

Fort Saskatchewan RCMP said they identified eight more underage victims who lived in Alberta, Ontario, and British Columbia.

"I feel so deeply for the victims and their families," Insp. Mike McCauley, officer in charge of the Fort Saskatchewan RCMP, said in the release. "Their healing will take time, but at least it can now start and they can feel safe."

Bardilas was charged in October after a man used messaging apps to contact a 14-year-old girl in January 2020, asking for nude photographs before sending the same in return.

The suspect eventually met the girl in a secluded area and assaulted her, RCMP said October in a news release.

Now Bardilas is accused of reaching out to eight other victims using the social media platforms.

He met with two of the children in person, police said.

Bardilas was arrested in Whitecourt on Thursday and charged with several offences including invitation to sexual assault, sexual touching, sexual interference and sexual exploitation of a person with a disability.

He is also facing charges of making, accessing and possession of child pornography, making available sexually-explicit material, child luring, criminal harassment and harassing by telecommunication.

Bardilas is in custody and is scheduled to appear in court on April 1 in Fort Saskatchewan.

The investigation was a collaborative effort between RCMP in Fort Saskatchewan, Whitecourt, Grand Prairie, Williams Lake, B.C., and the Ontario Provincial Police, the release said.

"I want to thank all of the people who worked on this complex investigation," McCauley said. "These files are challenging from an investigative perspective, but they are also taxing on the officers any time children are involved."