An Australian childcare worker has been accused of sexually abusing 91 young women over 15 years, police said, documenting his “unfathomable” alleged crimes in thousands of photos and videos, reports RTE.
Seasoned detectives described it as one of Australia’s “most horrific” cases of child sexual abuse, calling it “beyond the realms of anyone’s imagination”.
“I know this news will seem unfathomable, and I know there will be many questions,” said assistant federal police commissioner Justine Gough, reports RTE.
The 1,623 charges included 136 counts of rape, 110 counts of having sex with a child under the age of 10 – a charge used instead of rape in some Australian jurisdictions – and 613 counts of making child pornography.
Investigators have been looking for the 45-year-old since the 2014 discovery of a cache of child pornography shared on the dark web.
But their efforts were largely fruitless until they made an unexpected breakthrough last August by matching visual clues to the background of images of a Brisbane childcare centre.
Although the man was initially charged with only three offences, Ms Gough said the seriousness of his “heinous” alleged crimes was revealed when police searched his computer, phone and hard drive.
“This is chilling and shocking news for parents,” she said, reports RTE.
Police believe the man took or photographed “all” of his alleged crimes and eventually catalogued more than 4,000 photos and videos of the abuse.
New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Michael Fitzgerald said it was one of the most horrific incidents he had ever seen.
“It’s beyond the realms of anyone’s imagination what this person did to these children. I can only say, you try not to be shocked after a long period of time in the police, but this is a horrific case,” he said, reports RTE.
Police said the abuse took place at ten different childcare centres between 2007 and 2022 and specifically targeted “pre-pubescent girls”, some as young as one year old.
Investigators tirelessly combed through the photos to identify 87 of the 91 people who were residents of the Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales.
The remaining four unidentified children were abused while the man worked abroad for a short period in 2013-2014.
Police said they are now working with international crime agencies to track the children without disclosing which countries they were targeted in.
“We have been working tirelessly since August last year to identify the children in the alleged child abuse material,” Ms Gough said, reports RTE.
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