Police have rescued a 12-year-old girl whose abuse was allegedly live-streamed by a Sydney man on social media following a joint investigation between Australian and Philippine authorities.
The girl was freed on Friday by Philippine national police and Australian federal police officers at a property in the city of Rizal, about a two-hour drive from Manila. Police also arrested a 39-year-old woman as part of the raid.
The investigation into the Sydney man and possible Philippines-based offenders was sparked after the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) referred the child abuse allegations to the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation in July 2019.
Last month, police in New South Wales raided the man’s home in Sydney’s North Rocks, seizing electronic devices they allege contained child abuse material.
The 63-year-old is now facing charges including procuring a child to engage in sexual activity outside Australia, using a carriage service to solicit child pornography, transmitting child pornography material and possessing child abuse material.
It will be alleged that the man communicated with people offshore to procure the children – via a trusted adult – to produce and transmit child abuse material at his request, police said.
He is due to face Parramatta local court on 22 November.
Police did not rule out further arrests and said they expected to charge the woman detained at Rizal on Friday.
The girl has been placed in the care of the Philippines’ Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The AFP’s senior officer in Manila, federal agent Andrew Perkins, said: “Sadly there is an appetite for child abuse material online which leads to vulnerable children becoming pawns in a form of abuse that can have devastating impacts.
“The arrest and rescue sends a strong message that, if you are taking part in this vile industry, law enforcement will find you.”
Police urged anyone with information to report their suspicions through the Report Child Abuse link on the AFP website, via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or their social media provider.