A tip sent to the Australian Federal Police from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children led to the arrest of 30-year-old Justin Radford in the city of Wyong on the Central Coast of Australia in February of this year. He was accused of abusing two children.
After that first arrest, just like a set of dominoes, others fell in what investigators say was an investigation into "abhorrent systemic sexual abuse of children" that all started with the examination of Radford's cell phone. "Each warrant led to the discovery of more alleged offenders and more children to be saved from alleged ongoing abuse," a statement from the AFP read.
In the end, investigators identified 46 child victims that ranged in age from 16-months to 15-years.
Radford was arrested and charged with 89 offenses which included 10 counts of sexual touching of a victim under 10, 12 counts of producing child abuse material and 22 counts of disseminating abuse material.
A forensic analysis of his electronic devices resulted in the removal of several animals from his residence after the discovery of bestiality, and led investigators to other individuals he was tied to through an online forum being used to disseminate images of child sexual abuse.
As the investigation unfolded, they dubbed it Operation Arkstone, a separate investigation from the recent Operation Molto.
One of the individuals caught was 27-year-old Timothy Doyle who used to work at a Mid North Coast childcare facility. He has been arrested and faces 303 charges and is accused of abusing 30 children, 16 of which were from his place of employment. Among some of the charges against him are sexual intercourse with a child under 10 and the production of child pornography. He has a court date scheduled for January 21, 2021.
Australian Federal Police have stated that all parents of children that could have potentially been involved in this case have already been contacted.
Doyle's partner, 22-year-old Steven Garrad was also arrested in June and faces 123 charges. AFP say Garrad "allegedly abused children his partner accessed through deceptive means." His charges include sexual intercourse with a child under 10 and charges related to the production of child pornography.
Additionally caught in the investigation was 30-year-old volunteer soccer coach Grant Harden who allegedly produced a "large quantity of abhorrent child abuse material." He faces 44 charges as well as bestiality offenses.
The NZ Herald reports that others arrested through the course of the investigation were a court officer, an IT worker, an electrician, a supermarket employee, a disability support worker and a retail assistant.
The most recent arrest was that of 27-year-old Jake Caldwell of Seaforth who was arrested on November 3. He has been charged with four counts of possessing and accessing child pornography.
"No child should be subjected to abuse and violence from people who hold high positions of trust in their lives, whether it be a family member, child care worker, or soccer coach," AFP Acting Commander Child Protection Operations Christopher Woods said.
The investigation resulted in 146 international tips to Europe, Asia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. Three individuals within the United States have already been arrested based on tips. Those arrests have taken place in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Connecticut.