Earlier today the Australian Federal Police in partnership with the New South Wales Police Force announced that an additional 152 charges had been filed against one of the individuals they had arrested in November 2020 as a part of Operation Arkstone.
At the time, volunteer soccer coach Grant Harden was found to have produced a "large quantity of abhorrent child abuse material." He was charged with 44 offenses a the time.
An additional 152 charges were filed against 31-year-old Harden in the Sydney Central Local Court today, bringing the total charges against him to 196. He stands accused of multiple rapes of a child under the age of 10 as well as bestiality.
Another, at this time unnamed 31-year-old North Sydney man became the 20th arrest as a result of Operation Arkstone. He has been charged with one count of possession or controlling child abuse material. He is scheduled to appear in Downing Centre Court on Thursday April 15, 2021.
This accounts for three additional arrests and 198 additional charges filed since January, 2021.
Beginning in early 2020, the operation has resulted in the arrest of 20 individuals throughout Australia with 1,026 charges filed to date. During the course of the investigation, 53 children were removed from harm.
146 referrals have been made internationally based on evidence uncovered by the AFP.
"As a society we still find it too confrontational to talk about child sexual abuse and exploitation. So we must have more conversations with the community and inform them that this crime is more pervasive and wide-spread than realised," AFP Commander Hilda Sirec stated in the press release. "And during COVID-19, the prevalence of child exploitation has gotten worse."
"No one nation is immune to the threat of child sexual abuse and no one nation can tackle it alone. Sadly, there are victims and child sex offenders throughout the world.''
The investigation resulting from Operation Arkstone is still ongoing.
"Our officers are continuing to identify alleged offenders through Operation Arkstone and like today's additional charges, will ensure every offence is accounted for, whether that person has three or 188 charges laid against them. No offence is too small when dealing with child sexual abuse."