Whitecourt man pleads guilty to social media luring, sexual interference

A Whitecourt man has admitted to using Snapchat to lure several children for sexual purposes.    (Thomas White/Reuters - image credit)
A Whitecourt man has admitted to using Snapchat to lure several children for sexual purposes. (Thomas White/Reuters - image credit)

WARNING: This article contains details of sexual abuse of children.

A 29-year-old Alberta man admits that he used social media to convince several girls to send him sexual photos and videos — and in two cases he used social media to facilitate meetings with the minors.

Kenneth Bardilas appeared in Edmonton's Court of King's Bench on Monday and pleaded guilty to one count each of sexual interference, possession of child pornography and child luring.

According to an agreed statement of facts, Bardilas first came to police's attention in March 2020 after a 14-year-old girl disclosed to her therapist that she'd been victimized by a person named "Ken."

Bardilas was 26 when he first contacted the girl on Snapchat. She told him she was 14, and he told her he was over 18.

He asked the child for nude photos, and when she declined he kept asking in a way that led her to believe he was angry. She eventually sent him a photo, and he sent her explicit videos of himself.

Bardilas also met up with the girl three times at recreation centres in Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan.

On the first occasion in January 2020, the girl came outside the centre wrapped in a blanket and was "quiet and scared," according to the agreed facts. During that meeting, he grabbed at her and kissed her and wouldn't let her leave until she said her mother was coming outside.

During their next meeting, Bardilas sexually touched the girl, and then directed her to perform oral sex on him. He also directed her to perform oral sex during their third meeting in March 2020.

Bardilas, who lives in Whitecourt, was arrested in August 2020.

Victims in three provinces

According to the agreed statement of facts, an RCMP forensic technician examined Bardilas's phone after the arrest and found a collection of child pornography featuring several girls Bardilas contacted on Snapchat, encouraging and directing them to send him sexual videos and photos.

In a March 2021 news release following Bardilas's second arrest for sexual offences involving children, police said the victims live in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.

Court heard Monday that Bardilas told some of the girls he was an adult, and others that he was a teenager.

Of the six girls in the videos that police found, investigators have been able to confirm the identities of four. They range in age from 12 to 16.

On Snapchat, videos and photos disappear after the recipient views them. But Bardilas admitted that he used a screen-capturing recorder to surreptitiously record the images the girls sent.

While most of the luring was done on Snapchat, Bardilas met one of the minors on a video messaging app called Monkey, and then moved the conversation to Instagram.

The RCMP technician also found a video of an unidentified child, who appears to be between 10 and 12 years old, being sexually abused.

Sending money to a vulnerable girl

In March 2020, Bardilas met up in person with another girl he was luring over Snapchat between February and July 2020.

Court heard that this girl, whose age is not specified in the agreed statement of facts, has bipolar disorder and learning disabilities, and she was particularly vulnerable at the time of the offence.

Bardilas messaged her for weeks before she added him on the app, and repeatedly requested nude images from her, even offering her money.

Investigators found that while Bardilas did end up sending the girl money in July 2020, she never sent him any photos.

On March 1, 2020, Bardilas met up with the girl and her friends in Edmonton at a park and at one of the friend's homes . No parents were present that day, and the girl was touched, kissed and groped by Bardilas.

Bardilas stayed the night at the house, and had to sneak out in the morning as the parents had returned.

Court of King's Bench Justice Peter Michalyshyn accepted Bardilas's guilty pleas. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for June 19.

Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.