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Greater Victoria man charged with child porn offences after joint investigation

Jae Alexander Hegan is accused of luring multiple youth victims online
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A Langford man has been charged with seven child exploitation offences after an investigative effort by Canada and U.S. agencies. (The Canadian Press - Jonathan Hayward)

Law enforcement agencies from B.C. and the United States have charged a Langford man with child exploitation after a joint investigation that began last fall.

Jae Alexander Hegan was arrested in January after the British Columbia Integrated Child Exploitation Unit (BC ICE) and West Shore RCMP executed a search warrant on a Langford home. He was then released with a number of conditions relating to children and internet access. The 31-year-old man from the Langford area now faces seven criminal charges.

The investigation began in September 2023 when the child exploitation unit received information from U.S. Homeland Security investigators about a suspect believed to be in B.C. who was allegedly participating in child exploitation on a social media app.

BC ICE identified Hegan, who police on Tuesday (May 28) said lured three youth victims online and exploited them. The man made child sexual abuse material of the victims and posted that material on the internet for others to see, a police news release said.

Hegan now faces criminal charges including: making or publishing child pornography, making child pornography available, possession of child pornography, accessing child pornography, making sexually explicit material available to a person under the age of 16 and two counts of child luring.

Investigators recognized the collaboration between the Canadian and U.S. units to identify and arrest Hegan.

“Online child exploitation poses a grave threat to the well-being of our youth, and this case highlights the importance of cross-border cooperation in combating these crimes,” said BC ICE Staff Sgt. Natalie Davis. “Predators are online and accessing our youth at home, in the privacy of their bedrooms. It is important for adults to have conversations with the youths in their lives about how to stay safe online.”

Police say the investigation is ongoing but no more information will be released now that the case is before the courts.

The B.C. government in recent months tabled legislation aimed at holding social media giants accountable for the harms their algorithms cause people, especially kids.

That legislation, which would allow the province to sue tech giants over tactics deemed harmful to children, has been put on pause after companies like Meta, Snap, TikTok and X (formerly Twitter) agreed to take part in an online safety action table.

The Public Health Accountability and Cost Recovery Act was tabled after Premier David Eby promised the parents of Carson Cleland the province would hold social media companies accountable, following the 12-year-old boy’s suicide death.

Cleland was a victim of online sextortion, which included the sharing of intimate images to an online user who had pretended to be a young girl. The boy then received extortion threats.

This year has also seen the federal government introduce its online harms bill, which would target content that sexually victimizes a child. The legislation would create a new digital safety commission that could order such content to be removed within 24 hours of images shared without an individual’s consent.

With files from Wolf Depner and The Canadian Press

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