They were two tiny pieces of computer technology about the size of a pinky finger and a palm.
But a cell phone and a USB stick in a toy-filled bedroom in a nondescript house unleashed some of the most depraved pedophilia ever uncovered in Australia.
A devastating discovery has formed just one tentacle of the nation’s largest online child abuse ring. It was just the beginning.
The search warrant was the result of a global effort that began with input from US authorities. His ensuing two-and-a-half years snowballed into an investigation of a scale never before undertaken by the Australian Federal Police.
These shocking discoveries have shaken even the most seasoned child protection officer, as pedophiles utilize sophisticated encryption methods and popular chat platforms to exchange child abuse images and videos online. became a strong warning.
For the first time, the frontline cop spearheading the investigation shares its inner workings and the challenges involved in sifting through millions of unimaginably terrifying material and dropping a devastating news bomb on families. Did.
AFP Acting Sergeant Scott Wertmeier said from AFP’s Sydney headquarters: “It was a complete shock.
“It was terrifying, unthinkable material. I couldn’t believe this was happening to kids. You wouldn’t want anyone to see those videos.”
Despite her days spent chasing the foulest of predators, it was the accent that rocked battle-hardened AFP Detective Senior Constable Kate Laidler.
“These children were clearly Australian,” she said, referring to the victims in the pile of videos she faced.
“I could tell by the accent and the material… we are keenly aware that we are the only ones looking for these children and may be the only chance to save them. Feeling this pressure please give me.”
A mother was grateful that her son was saved from the cruel hands of former soccer coach Grant Harden. Grant Harden documented abusing several children and submitted thousands of those and other child abuse videos to his syndicate online, in return for the abuse material from others. received.
However, the damage already taken could not be undone.
“You turn around and say, ‘How did I not see the signs? How did I not know this person was doing these things to our child? ‘” the mother asked.
“It’s a heartbreaking feeling of failure as a parent…because someone hurt our child and we didn’t know it.”
Harden was jailed for at least 22 years, but he intends to appeal. But his family, which he has shattered, lives in prison for life.
They share stories of betrayal and heartbreak, highlighting uncomfortable yet incredibly important issues.
And finally, all the men associated with the disgusting online syndicate can be revealed. From those who pleaded guilty to viewing some of the material to those who pleaded guilty to abusing a child themselves.
NewsLocal’s four-part series, Inside Arkstone, is now available. Follow how a twisted web of selfishness and loathing traveled from the first Wyon home to most corners of Australia, where 26 men were arrested and 56 children rescued.
Child Abuse Australia: How USB Undoed Child Abuse
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