Project Maverick shines light on child exploitation in Kingston and across province

A graphic from a video released by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) spotlights the staggering numbers that investigators with the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children deal with daily. Screen Captured image.

For those out there who are the ones abusing children we have a message for you as well: We are coming for you and we will hold you accountable.”

OPP Detective Inspector Jordan Whitesell.

As child exploitation numbers continue to increase, 121 children have been identified and 107 people criminally charged as a result of investigations completed in October under the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet. Three of those charged are from here in Kingston.

Code named Project Maverick, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), along with 26 other police services across the province, released a video snapshot of the work of the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet (Provincial Strategy) on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023. The video raises awareness of the work done by investigators and analysts that make up Project Maverick.

The staggering numbers from October 2022 alone show that members of the Provincial Strategy conducted 255 investigations, completed 168 search warrants, and seized 1,032 electronic devices. In total, 428 charges were laid against 107 people. During the investigations, 61 victims were identified and referred to appropriate community-based resources for assistance, while an additional 60 children were safeguarded. There are 175 ongoing investigations where additional charges may be laid. 

OPP Chief Superintendent Kari Dart of the OPP Investigation and Support Bureau stated that “these numbers are shocking, but they provide hope by showing the lengths our teams are willing to go to protect children. I would like to express gratitude for the hard work of the Provincial Strategy members, and our partners, in keeping children in this province safe and holding those who want to harm them accountable.”

Locally, Kingston Police Chief Antje McNeely, who does not appear in the video, confirmed by a media release that, “Kingston Police is proud to be a member of the Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet. Members of our Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit have identified and charged three Kingston residents as part of Project Maverick, and the investigations are still ongoing. This is a stark reminder that our children are some of the most vulnerable members of our communities and it takes a multipronged approach to bring those who commit these horrific crimes to justice. We encourage anyone with information on these types of crimes to contact their local police.”

The Provincial Strategy includes two ministries (Attorney General and Solicitor General) and 27 participating police agencies: Barrie, Belleville, Brantford, Chatham-Kent, Cornwall, Durham, Greater Sudbury, Guelph, Halton, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Niagara, North Bay, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Ottawa, Peel, Peterborough, Sarnia, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Toronto, Waterloo, Windsor, Woodstock, and York.

Additional partners that participated in these investigations included OPP Digital Forensics, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canada Border Services Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Homeland Security. The BOOST Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, the Children’s Aid Society, and the Canadian Centre for Child Protection provided victims’ support and education.

Since the Provincial Strategy began in 2006, it has completed 65,564 investigations and laid 24,608 charges against 6,540 people. A total of 3,470 victims have been identified worldwide.

The following is video outlining the investigation.

Locally, three men have been charged through Project Maverick, according to the OPP.

Joseph MacNeil, 30, of Kingston has been charged with:

  • Seven counts of possession of child pornography
  • Six counts of accessing child pornography
  • Six counts of making child pornography available

MacNeil will first appear in court on these charges on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022, the OPP said.

Tyler Hussey, 42, of Kingston has been charged with:

  • Three counts of possession of child pornography
  • Two counts of accessing child pornography
  • Two county of making child pornography accessible

Hussey will first appear in court on these charges on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, the OPP said. Hussey has previously been charged with similar offences. Kingstonist has inquired with Kingston Police as to why Hussey was released, and why the community was not made aware of his release. Kingston Police did not immediately respond by time of publication.

An unnamed adult male, aged 25, of Kingston, has been charged with:

  • Two counts of possession of child pornography
  • Two counts of accessing child pornography
  • Two counts of making child pornography accessible

The unnamed male does not currently have a court date scheduled for these charges, presumably pending an ongoing investigation.

A full list of charges for Project MAVERICK is included in the Addendum of Charged Persons that can be found here.

The investigations continue and anyone with information on these or any child exploitation investigations is asked to contact their local police. Kingston Police can be reached at 613-549-4660 ext. 0, where callers can remain anonymous by requesting to do so. The OPP urge citizens to report any instances of online child abuse to the police or through cybertip.ca. If a child is being harmed, call 9-1-1.

“The work done by the Provincial Strategy members takes us to some of the darkest corners of society and exposes the horrific crimes committed every day against children,” said OPP Detective Sergeant Jamie King, Provincial Strategy Lead,.“This is not a crime that can be combatted by our members alone and we ask that everyone out there recognize the importance they play in protecting children. Report these crimes, remain vigilant and educate yourself.” 

To learn how to keep children safe, go to Canadian Centre for Child Protection or cybertip.ca.

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