By Mata Press Service
For more than five years, Philip Chicoine paid thousands of dollars to direct parents in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world to sexually abuse their children in real time using video streaming sites
By the time police caught with him at his parent’s home in the Canadian prairie city of Saskatoon, he had amassed 580 unique videos and more than 4,000 unique photos involving torture, bondage and child sex abuse.
His victims ranged from infants to children 14 years old.
Police began tracking him beginning Valentine’s Day last year, while he accessed child pornography and used peer-to-peer file-sharing programs to share or distribute child pornography to 14 separate individuals/groups.
Chicoine was arrested as he was preparing to travel to the Philippines in March of 2017 to engage in direct physical abuse with pre-teens and toddlers
In total, 10,126 videos and 4,714 photos were in his possession a court heard when sentencing the 28-year-old scaffolder to 12 years in prison last November – one of the longest ever handed to a convicted child pornographer in Canada.
The anxiety-stricken loner, single and never married, was heard on digital exchanges, indicating he preferred children who cried during the abuse and complaining about the difficulties of finding “pedomoms.”
One of those providing him with child victims and sex tapes was 24-year-old Paul John Berame from Lapu-Lapu City in the Philippines.
Berame was sentenced recently to 15 years in jail for offering and transmitting sexually explicit images of children online in exchange for money.
Three underage girls were also rescued at the time of Berame’s arrest.
Prior to Berame’s arrest, authorities conducted surveillance that confirmed his involvement in cybersex trafficking of children, also known as the online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC). He had offered and provided online predators with nude images of children ranging from six to 14 years of age.
“Cybersex trafficking of children is a crime that crosses borders and is growing at an alarming rate,” said Ed Wilson, the executive director of International Justice Mission in Canada. “Canadians are among the many perpetrators involved in this crime, as the rapidly rising number of child sexual abuse images and videos reported to cybertip.ca reveals. This global crime requires a global response from government, NGOs and ordinary citizens.”
As of October 1, 2018, International Justice Mission has supported Philippine law enforcement agencies in 120 operations leading to the arrest of 179 suspected traffickers and the rescue of 415 victims. Forty-six perpetrators have been convicted for trafficking children into online sexual exploitation in the Philippines.
The case highlights the growing crime around live-streaming of child sex abuse in the Philippines, where pedophiles based overseas pay local traffickers to molest children and live-stream the abuse.
Despite numerous crackdowns, the sophistication and lucrativeness of the cybersex industry continue to enable its proliferation in the Philippines reported Channel News Asia.
According to the International Justice Mission (IJM), the number of rescue and arrest operations related to the cybersex trade in the Philippines went up from 17 in 2015 to 51 in the first nine months of 2018. At the same time, the age of the victims is going down. Most of them are 12 years old or younger, and one in ten are boys.
“Girls and boys are forced to perform sex acts on themselves or each other, molested by an adult, or are abused in other degrading ways,” said Sam Inocencio, the national director of IJM Philippines.
His agency has helped the country fight cybersex trafficking since 2016, enabling police to detain nearly 100 suspects and rescue more than 370 victims.
“The youngest victim IJM has rescued is a three-month-old baby,” he said.
Cybersex trafficking was first reported by an American non-profit organization, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 1998. In the Philippines, it was not detected until 2010 after a tip-off from authorities abroad.
Today, the country is “the epicenter” of the live-stream sexual abuse trade and the “number one global source of child pornography”, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Every month, the Philippine Justice Department receives more than 3,000 reports from overseas of possible cybersex trafficking cases.
“The main perpetrators are family members. Many of them use the ‘non-physical contact’ as an excuse, saying the perpetrators don’t touch their child, therefore it’s okay,” said Lotta Sylwander from UNICEF Philippines.
Locally known as a ‘show’, child cybersex abuse in the Philippines takes place on various platforms – from social networks to dating sites and chat rooms. IJM estimates that in more than 70 percent of cases, abuse is carried out by traffickers known to the victims. Half of them are the parents of the children themselves.
As victims are young, sex predators often use people the children trust, such as parents, older siblings, relatives, and neighbors, to facilitate exploitation.
“We can see a trend where the children get younger and younger and there is more and more torture going on,” Sylwander said.
In the Philippines, child cybersex crime mostly operates as a family business, but there have been incidents showing it can also transform into an organized syndicate.
“In the Philippines, there is a lot of poverty. Some people may think it’s an easy way of making money – you put a boy or a girl in front of a webcam and some people will say there is no physical harm involved,” said Terre des Hommes’ Asia representative Eric van der Lee.
One of the most common types of advertisements on the dark web is for live-streaming sexual abuse, according to the Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography and the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children. Abusers would schedule and market “live sessions” ahead of time. Customers are required to pre-pay for a link or access code in order to watch the abuse.
“The role of ‘director’ is auctioned off or charged at a significant premium, giving one user the right to ‘control the action’,” the report said.
Payments are often made through remittance companies, which are abundant in the Philippines. Perpetrators can withdraw money from various locations, making it hard for authorities to trace the money trail. Between 2015 and September this year.
Globally, Interpol’s database has identified more than 14,200 children as victims of child pornography. The number does not include data linked to “numerous unidentified victims”, whose cases are yet to be investigated.