A 45-year-old Winnipeg man faces child exploitation charges after police discovered a live stream of a six-year-old boy being sexually assaulted in the United States.
Greg Alan Jamieson was arrested on Monday and charged with making child pornography, sexual interference and agreeing to or arranging a sexual offence against a child for the purposes of child exploitation and making child pornography.
Jamieson has also been charged with four counts of breaking his bail conditions for having contact with children and accessing the internet.
He was already facing charges of possessing and making child pornography after investigators found child sexual abuse images, involving victims as young as eight months old, at a Winnipeg home in November 2016. Jamieson was detained at the time but later released on bail. He is now back in custody.
Winnipeg police said investigators with the internet child exploitation unit found the live stream had been established on a "popular instant messaging/live-streaming app" with an "as-of-yet unidentified male suspect" in the U.S.
The person in the U.S. was "directed to commit various sexual assaults against the child" by an individual in Winnipeg, police allege.
Police know little about the victim, but believe the child was six years old and in the care of the American. It's not known where in the United States the assault took place.
"We know that … investigators here, and our counterparts in the U.S. who are actively working with Winnipeg police, have not been able to identify either … the suspect who's doing the assaults or the victim at this point in time," Winnipeg police Const. Rob Carver told reporters on Thursday.
"That is still ongoing, which is why we're still working with U.S. law enforcement, Homeland Security, to see if we can ultimately identify this child and locate them."
App not specified
Police would not specify what app was used in this case, but Carver said people are using popular programs to stream child sexual assaults live.
"The live streaming could be [with] FaceTime, it could be Skype, it could be any number of apps or facilities that allow that type of direct, live communication," Carver said.
Police said the live stream appears to have taken place before Jamieson's arrest in November. Investigators found out about it as they continued investigating after his arrest.
Carver said Jamieson was not on police's radar prior to the investigation, which began after information came in from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the U.S.
'On-demand sexual abuse'
Live streams of child sexual abuse are on the rise, said Signy Arnason of Cybertip.ca, a child exploitation tip line operated by the Winnipeg-based Canadian Centre for Child Protection.
Arnason said her organization alone received 50 reports of live streams in 2016-17 — up from 20 in 2015-16.
"It's a lens into the fact that this is shifting and moving, and this idea of on-demand sexual abuse is something that's happening among the offending community," she said.
"They connect within these different forums and chat rooms where individuals reinforce and collaborate and have their cognitive distortions around how this is all OK, and then they move over into Skype or some live streaming function where they can be potentially executing what was occurring to this six-year-old."
Both Arnason and Carver said child exploitation cases like this are more common than people may think.
"These investigators get these tips … on a daily basis, and it is not uncommon. It is everywhere, it's in every community. It's certainly in Winnipeg, which is why we have a team of experts who work in this," Carver said.
"We know through the experience of the tip line, as well as the child exploitation units across this country, that we're seeing this happen at an alarming rate in relation to children," said Arnason.
"So we need the word to get out there that this is happening directly in our communities. It's not something way off there. It could be someone you know."