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Four arrested after string of sexual exploitation claims

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Four men have been arrested for questioning in connection with the sexual exploitation of nine girls under the age of 18 over the past six days.

Officer in charge of the Vulnerable Persons Unit, Inspector Mark Clarke told reporters yesterday, the victims said they were “lured to locations by persons known to them”.

And in some cases, they were given alcohol and/or drugs before being sexually exploited.

Said Insp Clarke: “Some of these assaults have involved persons unknown to the victim and took advantage of the location where they inappropriately touched, molested or had their private space intruded upon.”

The internet has “become a preying ground for sex offenders trying to lure victims”, he warned.

“Offenders will try to get specific information without directly asking for it.

“They may ask if your child plays on sports teams, which would eventually lead to a discussion of where your child played these games. Ultimately, they want to try to set up a meeting.”

Insp Clarke urged parents to know where their children are at all times, particularly for the remainder of the summer holiday period.

“Any person who by means of a communication medium, communicates with a child for the purpose of sexually exploiting a child is guilty of an offence,” he said.

While noting that “exploiting our young by these predators is not a new phenomenon, he said: “These alarming behaviours will always be unacceptable to those who have the responsibility to protect our children.

“The law is clear; the Criminal Code states that any person who sexually assaults, exploits, lures, administers any noxious substance, ie alcohol, drugs is guilty of an offence.

“The sexual exploitation of our children are serious offences and will never be tolerated. Society should never consider this an acceptable behaviour,” said Insp Clarke.

“To those who wish to sexually exploit our children, know this: we will not tolerate nor stand idly and not act. We will investigate. All proven offenders will expect a court appearance.

“Simple basic preventive steps will minimise the risk of our children being sexually exploited.”

Sgt Sharnita Tankard warned that children “are usually molested by people they know — a friend, a friend of the family or a close relative”.

“Usually children are not violently attacked or physically hurt during such sexual assaults; however, the emotional damage can be severe.

“When telling you about the attack, children can either appear awkward and ill at ease or relate the details without problems. Alternatively they may not say anything at all,” she said.

“If your child claims to have been sexually molested, tell him or her that he/she did the right thing in telling you about the incident.

“Give your child your undivided attention and listen closely tow hat he or she has to say. Let the child know that your are sorry and will protect him or her in the future. And give them advice to reduce the risks of becoming a repeat victim.”

Sgt Tankard closed with a warning echoed by Insp Clarke to “not allow requests to sleep outside the family home to go unchallenged”.

“Confirm these requests with the opposing parent,” said Sgt Tankard.

Parents were urged to determine who their child’s friends are, ask clarifying questions, demand locations and always have contact information that includes telephone numbers.

Police Sargent Sharnita Tankard and Inspector Mark Clarke of the Vulnerable Persons unit address media questions during a press conference at the Hamilton Police Station
Inspector Mark Clarke (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published July 30, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated July 30, 2013 at 12:05 am)

Four arrested after string of sexual exploitation claims

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