The Mounties failed to investigate apparent child-porn trading from a computer registered to someone in Windsor, even though an online tipster had forwarded detailed tracing information to identify the suspect, the Citizen has learned.
The electronic trace, which included exact times of trading and the user's IP address, was forwarded to Kingston RCMP less than 30 minutes after it was performed on the night of Nov. 27, 2000.
The online tipster, a network security engineer, alerted the Mounties immediately because the suspect's files included child-rape images and he feared the Internet would be used to groom more young victims.
Kingston RCMP replied to the e-mail seven days later, instructing the tipster to contact his hometown authorities.
The tipster, Michael Vaughan, then contacted Cincinnati police, who informed him that they had no authority to investigate the report.
Const. Donna O'Connell, who instructed the tipster, told the Citizen that it is standard procedure for the RCMP to tell tipsters to contact their hometown authorities.
"It's not up to the complainant to decide who investigates the case. It's up to their local authorities. Then, if they believe there is reason to investigate, they will forward it to the authorities with jurisdiction," said Const. O'Connell, who couldn't recall the tip but acknowledged that she replies to public e-mails.
In the end, nothing was done and the case has not been made public until now.
The network security engineer who reported the case works for Predator-Hunter.com, a U.S.-based online watchdog that has helped arrest and convict suspected pedophiles around the world.
In an interview yesterday, Mr. Vaughan said he hoped the RCMP response to this case is unusual.
"We have reported Web sites and people trading child pornography to the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Russia and many other countries around the world. No police agency anywhere in the world has ever responded by advising us to report a crime in their jurisdiction to our local authorities. I do not wish to paint the RCMP as being averse to doing what is clearly their duty based on a single inaction," Mr. Vaughan said.
However, he characterized the police response -- "Please contact your local police regarding this concern" -- as appalling.
"This is a serious situation which needs to be addressed by those in Canada who are responsible for the enforcement of its laws and the safety of its children from child pornographers and predators. This may well explain why pedophiles view Canada as a friendly country to live in," he said.
Toronto police last month declared that child pornography was an "epidemic," saying their city is one of the world centres for distribution.
In fact, many of the popular "child-lover" discussion groups are based in Canada, notably Montreal.
In a posting last night at 5:30 p.m., one Canadian "boy lover" wrote about the benefits of living in Canada. "The criminal justice system is less punitive than in the U.S. Decades-long sentences are almost unheard of for any but the most heinous offences. ... The age of consent is 14. So if you like teens, that's already better for you.
"Boy loving is taboo here just like in the U.S. Even in Quebec, which is famous for being very sexually accepting, boy loving is not something talked about in polite company. The attitudes from the United States are making their way north -- no question about it. But for the time being, life is slightly less harsh in the Great White North."
Another posting by a Quebec man says you can have sex with 14-year-olds by law, "just don't write a story about it" -- a reference to the legal case against accused child pornographer John Robin Sharpe.
Almost all of the postings on the Canadian Web sites include photographs of young boys.
The Citizen has since alerted a Windsor-based Internet provider about the electronic trace. The Internet provider was not only impressed by its detail but also said it would be easy to identify the suspect user for the police if they call.
A prized Canadian hacker whose online infiltration has led to several arrests and convictions of child predators says he's called it quits after losing faith in police who move too slowly and won't pay him for his late-night work.
In correspondence dated Dec. 6, 2001, a British Columbia hacker known as Omni Potent expresses frustration with police reluctance to pursue his information about child pornography producers.
"They basically ignored us ... [He's] producing again. It has become too time consuming to be working without some reward from law enforcement," he writes in an e-mail obtained by the Citizen.
In another message, he says in some cases police have reneged on rewards for tracking down online child predators.
"I don't feel like more headaches ... when all is said and done, they would rather stab you in the back than pat you on the back. Anyway, I'm out of here."
In his latest online investigation, the hacker, who lives in Langley, B.C., retrieved an electronic sex predator diary from the computer of a senior California judge.
The investigation led to the recent U.S. indictment against Orange County Superior Court Judge Ronald Kline, now under house arrest awaiting trial for possession of more than 100 images of children engaged in sex.
The hacker, dubbed by police as "Citizen Tipster," retrieved the electronic sex diary using a Trojan Horse program that allows him to extract e-mails and files from suspects the world over. In his global hunt for child predators, the hacker has successfully loaded the program onto 3,000 computers.
Omni Potent is the same mysterious hacker who led the Mounties to the capture and conviction of an Alberta man who offered his eight-year-old daughter up for sex via the Internet in 1999. The hacker's investigations have exposed child predators across Canada, the United States and Russia. Some of the suspects included foster parents, social workers and justice officials.
More, he has helped find child victims -- with some even rescued from their captors.
His decision to stop helping police track pedophiles will allow predators to stalk with impunity, according to his online associates. They describe Omni Potent as one of the most connected and reliable of all online informants.
"Many parents owe him a debt of gratitude for bringing pedophiles to light. He has brought a number of situations to our attention where children were being victimized by adult predators. As a result, some children have been rescued from very evil situations. This is a huge loss and a shame," said Wendell Krueth, president of Predator-Hunter.com, a non-profit Internet watchdog.
During his investigations, the Canadian hacker found himself under police scrutiny, notably for possessing a large quantity of child porn files, retrieved using his Trojan Horse program, automatically set in motion once a targeted user opens a seemingly harmless attachment file.
In several e-mail messages, Omni Potent expresses frustration with police reluctant to pursue the predators he identified. He also complained about how he was treated by "intimidating" authorities.
In all of his hunting, Omni Potent has remained anonymous --even in police affidavits. Nor was he coded as a paid informant by the Mounties.
"I rather wonder why law enforcement agencies do not often put to good use the obvious talents of people like Omni Potent instead of hunting them while seemingly viewing and treating them as low-life, back-alley snitches. It makes me wonder about their priorities," Mr. Krueth said.
Beyond Omni Potent's computer skills, his ability to remain anonymous allowed him to infiltrate several pedophile rings with ease.
In the case against Judge Kline, U.S. detectives credit him alone for breaking it open. In the case of the Alberta man jailed for peddling his young girl as a sexual plaything, the Mounties have yet to credit him publicly.
The news that the mysterious hacker is quitting the hunt comes at a time when Canadian police are trying to identify some 2,000 online pedophiles.
A British Columbia hacker who retrieved an electronic sex diary from the computer of a senior California judge says he ignored "intimidating" orders by Canadian officials to drop the case.
Instead, the hacker, known as OmniPotent, pressed ahead because the judge's journal entries showed an apparent plot to sexually exploit young boys at a private health club.
OmniPotent has spent night after night penetrating up to 3,000 private computers in search of child predators from his home in Langley, B.C. Though the police have yet to credit him publicly, OmniPotent is the same mysterious hacker who led the Mounties to the capture and conviction of an Alberta man who offered his eight-year-old daughter up for sex via the Internet in 1999.
During his online predator hunting, which has led to several arrests, OmniPotent, dubbed by police as "Citizen Tipster", found himself under investigation for possessing vast quantities of child porn files, retrieved using a Trojan Horse program that allowed him to extract e-mail from suspects the world over.
His latest investigation has led to the U.S. indictment of Orange County Superior Court Judge Ronald Kline, who is now under house arrest awaiting trial on six counts of possession of child pornography. In all of this, the Canadian hacker has remained anonymous -- even in police affidavits. In an exclusive statement, the hacker explains why he chooses to remain a shadowy figure.
"My sources that I have worked on gaining trust over a number of years, see me as someone they can trust and not worrying about being exposed. These sources have been very beneficial over the years and have produced some spectacular leads."
"As long as I am in not any sort of spotlight, I can work with them without any scrutiny.
"And they will continue to supply information on who is doing what on the trading scene. One source indeed has been very vigilant in supplying information on who some of the more evil people are in the underground. My second reason, I just like anonymity. Nothing can be gained for someone like me to reveal myself.
"I can do far more from behind a veil than I could ever do under light," he said.
The hacker, who uses several aliases in chat groups, says he measures his success by his "contribution" to protecting those who cannot protect themselves.
In the case against Judge Kline, U.S. detectives credit him alone for breaking it open. "The diary he retrieved gave us the probability that we needed to get the search warrant," said California Det. Ronald Carr.
The search warrant unearthed more than 100 images of young children engaged in sex acts.
According to police affidavits, Judge Kline, up for re-election later this month and currently the front-runner, admitted that he authored the journal. The judge has not been charged with any crime for keeping the electronic diary, but has been charged with possession of more than 100 images of child pornography. Since that indictment, an alleged molestation victim has come forward and the judge now also faces sexual-assault charges dating back to 1976.
In the electronic journal, excerpted in police documents, the author writes exclusively about his sexual interest in young boys. The journal entries span May 2000 through March 2001 and detail the author's deviant sexual urges and the times and places where he meets young boys. These details and his written thoughts about cases before him made it easy for authorities to conclude the retrieved diary was genuine.
The judge, a Little League umpire, had contact with numerous boys at ball games, in a mall and at a private health club -- where he befriended vulnerable young boys with the hopes of exploiting them.
"You can't just charge in like you did with (a boy) too. How do I encourage him without pursuing him too hard? You have great entree in the separation of his parents," says an entry dated June 6, 2000.
The next day, the author writes: " I gave a lot of thought today about this business of approaching these kids too fast ... He doesn't strike me as a lonely boy like (boy) was. You have to make them come to you or it just doesn't work," says a diary entry dated June 9, 2000.
After reviewing the journal, Det. Tracy Jacobson concludes in an affidavit that the author is a pedophile. "He refers to the child as "gorgeous" and writes about the child's body in a sexually interested way. The author writes about how and when to approach the child, and plans his moves carefully. It is further my opinion these are the type of comments only a pedophile or a child molester would make," Det. Jacobson said.
In the journal, the author seems fixated with young boys and often writes about the problems of enticing them to be alone with him. He talks about buying them baseball tickets and giving them a tour around town in his Porsche Boxster. According to California Motor Vehicles records, a 2000 Boxster with the licence 4HTV361 is registered to Judge Kline.
Sometimes, he found it hard to control his urges. In one entry, the author writes about sitting next to a young boy at a pizzeria, and rubbing his back "with no resistance at all." Other times, the author wrote that when he was preparing to give a drive to a boy to a baseball game, he likened it to getting ready for a date.
In some entries, the author would keep track of a number of boys, writing down the times and places where he encountered them. At a private health club, the author wrote that he leered at young boys, describing their bodies in sexual ways and expressing disappointment when he was unable to see the boys' undress.
Because the author was noting the names of the boys and tracking their movement, OmniPotent feared he would molest one of the targeted boys. In turn, he forwarded the electronic journal to Predator-Hunter.com, an Internet organization created to stop child exploitation.
"We use creative and legal means, often through Internet technology, to bring pedophiles who prey on children to justice," said president Wendell Krueth.
It was Mr. Krueth who first verified the electronic journal was genuine by cross-checking details found in the entries. Then, Predator-Hunter.com forwarded the material to Julie Posey, founder of a Colorado-based Internet watchdog group, Pedowatch. It was Ms. Posey who forwarded the diary to justice officials in California. In a police affidavit, detectives say that Ms. Posey told them that the Canadian hacker said he was working as an informant for customs agents.
"OmniPotent was concerned because of the prominence of the person involved. We were very cautious before handing over the files," Mr. Krueth said.
On May 8, 2001, Irvine Police Det. Ron Carr was assigned to assist the California Department of Justice in a probe into alleged child pornography.
The detective then echoed Predator-Hunter. com's investigation, cross-checking all the details found in the diary, ranging from the judge's involvement in Little League to the names of the boys who held memberships at a private health club.
He concluded the journal was genuine, then set out to track the informant. He found that the U.S. Customs Service had issued a summons for computer records in an earlier attempt to identify the mysterious Canadian hacker. The June 13, 2001, summons was served during an investigation into the distribution of child porn.
Several records showed that OmniPotent had used bogus subscriber information so well that he was in fact undetectable. Meanwhile, a child advocate told the detective that OmniPotent had told her that he ran a Web site. The detective was then able to trace the domain to a name and address in Langley, B.C.
On Aug. 16, Det. Carr travelled to Langley, just outside Vancouver, to interview Citizen Tipster. In the interview, held at RCMP headquarters, the hacker told police that he had created a Trojan Horse program and successfully loaded it on some 3,000 computers worldwide. The program allows Citizen Tipster to retrieve e-mail, graphics, text and other files from targeted computers. This form of computer virus is usually attached to another file masquerading as a benign application or other file. If the unsuspecting user downloads the file with the attachment, the Trojan Horse is automatically attached to the targeted computer.
In the interview, Citizen Tipster agreed to hand over his hard drives to police in exchange for new ones. And while the hacker was the key to launching the case against the judge, he will not be called as a witness, and remains anonymous to this day.
It will be the judge's defence that because the electronic diary, the cornerstone of the case, was stolen, the federal grand jury charges should be dropped. The defence will also argue that the diary was stolen by a hacker who was working on behalf of law enforcement. It is also understood that the defence will argue that a hacker so skilled would have also been able to "doctor" the diary.
Police detectives working the case say the hacker was not working on behalf of them and that stolen or not, the judge is not charged with keeping an electronic sex predator diary so it doesn't matter.
Yesterday, Judge Kline remained secluded in his two-storey home, the last house on the north side of a cul-de-sac. He is wearing a security bracelet while under house arrest awaiting trial.
EDMONTON -- A Sherwood Park mother is furious an alleged pedophile is free to roam the streets after Mounties lost the videotaped testimony of his three young victims.
After the tape went missing, the investigating officer didn't show up for the preliminary hearing. Charges against the man were then stayed by Crown prosecutor Kevin Mott.
Because of a court-ordered publication ban, the names of the victims and their families -- as well as the Mountie who lost the tape -- can't be printed.
The mother told The Sun the alleged abuse against her daughter first came to light when the seven-year-old girl was playing with her father. Her play was unusually sexual, she said. When questioned, she allegedly described sexual acts between herself and her babysitter's son, who was 28 at the time. The next day, on Nov. 18, 2000, the family went to the RCMP.
Police interviews suggested the girl allegedly had been molested for two years, and two other boys, both now six years old, had also been sexually assaulted, said the mother.
A videotaped testimony was done on Nov. 19, 2000, at the RCMP detachment by a Child and Family Services worker to spare the children from cross-examination, said the mother.
The man was charged with five counts of sexual assault against the girl and the two boys.
The case seemed to be progressing, said the girl's father, until the day of the preliminary hearing on March 28, 2001.
"And so we go to the prelim and the charges are stayed against this creep, because they lost the videotape and the cop didn't show up to testify in behalf of my daughter," the mother told The Sun.
Charges relating to the two boys were also stayed.
The next day, the mother filed a complaint with the RCMP.
According to RCMP correspondence obtained by The Sun, RCMP Insp.
Michael Sekela investigated the complaint and found the officer negligent.
"The investigation concluded (the officer) was negligent in securing the tape and it was not available for the criminal proceedings on March 28, 2001," wrote Insp. Brian McLeod, officer in charge of the Sherwood Park detachment.
Alberta Justice spokesman Bart Johnson said neither he nor Mott would discuss the case with The Sun.