An elementary school teacher in Brocket, Alta., has been charged with child sexual exploitation offences following an investigation by ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation unit.
Mark Anderson was arrested on January 11, 2018 with the assistance of Pincher Creek RCMP, Piikani Nation RCMP and Lethbridge Police. The 44-year-old man teaches at Brocket Elementary School and is also involved in various youth-oriented community programs on the Piikani Nation Reserve, such as minor sports and Scouts Canada.
Anderson is charged with possessing, accessing, and distributing child pornography.
While the investigation and charges are related to online offences, ICE is encouraging anyone with information about this case to come forward and contact police. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact local police or cybertip.ca.
A number of computers and electronic devices were seized from his Pincher Creek home and will be subject to forensic examination. Brocket is located in southwest Alberta, between Pincher Creek and Fort Macleod.
The investigation began in July 2017 when ICE received a referral from the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) concerning a social media user uploading child sexual exploitation materials. ICE conducted an investigation to identify the user, and only recently learned the suspect was a teacher.
Anderson is expected to appear in court on January 30, 2018.
ICE is an integrated team consisting of Lethbridge Police, Calgary Police, Medicine Hat Police, and RCMP members, and investigates offences involving child pornography, any computer-related child sexual abuse, child luring over the Internet, voyeurism involving victims under the age of 18, and child sex trade/tourism.
Edmonton police use DNA phenotyping to find sex assault suspect
By Angela Amato in Edmonton
Edmonton police say they are using DNA phenotyping, for the first time in its history, in trying to solve a sexual assault.
DNA phenotyping predicts physical appearance and ancestry from unidentified DNA evidence, and police use that information to narrow suspects and generate leads in criminal investigations.
Det. Colleen Maynes says the method is a last resort after all other investigative avenues have been exhausted.
“This was a vicious assault,” said Maynes, adding she doesn’t want to see the perpetrator act again.
A woman lost consciousness after she was violently sexually assaulted by a man who followed her from a bus stop in the central Spruce Avenue neighbourhood in March of 2019.
She sustained serious injuries and was found wearing only a shirt when it was -27 C.
“This survivor deserves justice,” said Maynes.
There were no witnesses, surveillance video, public tips or DNA matches in the case.
Detectives enlisted DNA technology company Parabon NanoLabs in Virginia to help in the investigation. The lab has provided DNA phenotyping to help with other files in Saskatchewan and Ontario.
Most DNA testing in Canada goes through the RCMP’s lab. Maynes said this can take a long time, as the RCMP deals with cases across the country and doesn’t have the resources or technologies that other labs do.
“We are lacking with that technology here in Canada,” said Maynes.
Paula Armentrout with Parabon said that since 2018, its labs have helped solve 230 violent crimes in North America, although not all of them used DNA phenotyping.
DNA phenotyping is not exclusive to sexual assault cases. The analysis has also been used to find possible suspects in murder cases and to identify remains.
With a computer-generated snapshot in the Edmonton sex assault case, DNA phenotyping determined the suspect to be a Black man with dark brown to black hair and dark brown eyes who stands about five-foot-four.
Armentrout said the turnaround for this type of analysis is about 45 days after receiving a DNA sample.
Police said the suspect’s description may impact a marginalized community. After consulting with community stakeholders and considering the severity of the assault and the threat to public safety, police released the details with a computer-generated image.
Any leads generated from the image will require further investigative steps, said Maynes.
“It is by no means an immediate path to accusing a suspect,” she said. “What it does is potentially give us leads in a cold case, and we can follow up with DNA testing from there.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2022.
‘Ludicrous’: Prosecutor questions testimony of teen in Calgary hit-and-run cop death
By Bill Graveland in Calgary
A prosecutor suggested Wednesday a teen charged with first-degree murder in the hit-and-run death of a Calgary Police Service officer had no reason to believe he was in danger.
Sgt. Andrew Harnett died in hospital on Dec. 31, 2020, after being dragged by a fleeing SUV and falling into the path of an oncoming car.
The alleged driver, who cannot be identified because he was 17 at the time, has testified he was scared when Harnett and another officer approached the vehicle during a traffic stop and he saw Harnett put his hand on his gun.
But during cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Mike Ewenson played the body-camera footage of the stop. He asked the accused, who is now 19, if there was any proof Harnett was being threatening or insulting during the routine traffic stop.
“You brought up George Floyd in your direct examination. Do you remember what happened to George Floyd?” Ewenson asked.
The accused replied: “He got pulled out of the vehicle and I think they stepped on his neck … and he said he couldn’t breathe.”
Floyd was a Black man who was killed during an arrest by Minnesota police on May 25, 2020.
During testimony Tuesday, the teen testified he and his friends had discussed the Floyd case on social media.
“Let’s talk about what we just saw with Sgt. Harnett if we could, because you’re bringing this up at a trial that involves his death,” said Ewenson. “Any abusive language from him?”
“No,” the teen replied.
“Anything that was insulting to your age, your race, your ethnic background or religion,” Ewenson asked.
“Not necessarily, no. Actually, I felt like I was being racialized, right? Just the fact that the door opened and the fact that he asked for my phone number. I’ve never been asked for my phone number.”
Ewenson said any talk of the traffic stop being racist was just something the teen wanted the court to “take his word for” and there’s nothing that would be considered racist from Harnett’s behaviour.
“That’s how I felt,” the accused replied.
The teen repeatedly told Ewenson that he wasn’t sure how he ended up in the neighbourhood. He said he was following his GPS to get to a party. He also said he didn’t know who the third person in the back seat of the vehicle was, who had come with a friend.
Ewenson said it’s unlikely there would be memory lapses after an event that was the “most traumatic, powerful” and “consequential” night of the teen’s life.
“So looking back on it, you realize the story is ludicrous? The story doesn’t make sense, does it?” Ewenson asked. “Everything for you is a mindless reaction.”
The suspect said at the time he panicked and just decided to take off because he was afraid. The teen said looking back, he wishes his decision had been different.
“Look, to be frank to you, I’ve sat for two years in jail and I’ve thought about this over and over and over again,” he said. “It’s different when I think about it now and what I was going through at the moment.”
Ewenson suggested it was more likely something illegal was inside the suspect vehicle that made fleeing a simple traffic stop worth the risk.
Closing arguments in the trial are scheduled for Thursday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2022.
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