Crime

Halifax teen charged with child pornography, extortion of 12-year-old girl

Police say the suspect and victim met online

Police have charged a 16-year-old boy.   Rachel Collier

A 16-year-old boy from Halifax is accused of threatening a 12-year-old girl to keep sending him photos of herself or he’d make them public.

Police arrested the teen on Tuesday after searching a home in Halifax and seizing electronic devices. He’s charged with two counts of child luring, one count of child pornography and one count of extortion.

Halifax Regional Police said the teen and the girl, who lives in Washington, met while playing an online game.

Police say the teen asked the girl for photos in exchange for gift cards he said he would send. The girl sent some photos, but eventually refused to send more. At this point, the teen threatened to post the photos online.

“He lured her to provide photographs,” said Const. Dianne Penfound, a HRP spokesperson. “He was asking her for payment [to keep the photos private].”

The girl’s parents contacted authorities in Washington. Halifax police said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security then contacted them on Aug. 9, seven months ago.

“That’s when we began our investigation,” said Penfound. “The states had started theirs quite a bit earlier.”

Penfound adds “it’s very complicated” to investigate an Internet crime and said they are working with authorities in the U.S.

The identities of both the suspect and the victim are under a publication ban and cannot be revealed due to their ages.

Police are not saying when and where the two met online.

Child sexual exploitation online

In Canada, between 13 per cent and 19 per cent of children and youth have been sexually exploited online, according to the 2013-14 report on the National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet.

The report said the issue of peer exploitation is a growing concern that the government needs to learn how to address.

Child luring is a part of the Criminal Code designed to protect children from online predators who attempt to entice them into sexual conduct (either online or in person).

Cybertip, a national tip line for online child exploitation, says peer exploitation often happens in the context of “sexting” where images or videos are initially created by or shared privately between youth.