As reported in last week’s issue, Al Kirkwood, the former publisher of the Clearwater Times and the Barriere Star/Journal, and the former Barriere fire chief, has been charged with distribution and possession of child pornography.
However, according to a media release received from the BC Integrated Child Exploitation (BC ICE) unit after the issue went to press, there is currently no evidence suggesting that any local children were directly victimized.
According to the media release, the investigation began in August after BC ICE received several concerning reports from the United States National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the Canadian National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre (NCECC).
On Oct. 4, BC ICE, along with the assistance of numerous other RCMP units and jurisdictions (Barriere RCMP, Clearwater RCMP, Kamloops RCMP, North Okanagan RCMP General Investigations Section, Southeast District RCMP General Investigations Section and the Integrated Sexual Predator Observation Team), executed search warrants at four locations in the Barriere and Clearwater areas.
As reported in last week’s issue, the four locations were the Times office in Clearwater, the Star/Journal office in Barriere, Kirkwood’s home in Barriere and the Barriere fire hall.
Kirkwood, age 62, was arrested on Oct. 8 and was formally charged with the two offences on Nov. 04.
He was released on a promise to appear with conditions limiting his access to children and to the Internet.
Kirkwood made his first appearance in Kamloops Law Courts on Nov. 7. His next appearance is set for Dec. 8.
“This investigation illustrates how effectively different units and jurisdictions within the RCMP work together and with other national and international partners to combat the ever growing issue of online child exploitation” says Inspector Tyler Svendson, officer in charge of the RCMP Behavioural Sciences Group. “Keeping children safe is the primary goal of the BC ICE unit and dedicated ICE investigators routinely travel throughout the province to ensure that suspected offenders are identified and brought to justice.”
BC RCMP asks that if you are aware of any incidents of online child exploitation, that you report it to your local police or through www.Cybertip.ca.
Distribution of child pornography is an indictable offense and carries a penalty of not more than 14 years and and a minimum of one year.
Possession of child pornography carries a penalty of not more than 10 years in prison and a minimum of one year if found to be an indictable offense.
If found to be a summary conviction (less serious), the penalty is no more than two years less a day and not less than six months.