An Edmonton group home worker has been charged with sexually assaulting an 11-year-old child in his care, the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) said Wednesday.
Investigators believe there may be more victims and are interviewing other children who had contact with Samer Temraz.
Staff Sgt. Stephen Camp, who heads ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit, referred to the case as particularly “egregious.”
He said it is the first time he’s seen a sex-assault case involving a group home.
“There’s time frames where [Temraz would] be there overnight, spending a considerable amount of days there,” Camp said at a news conference Wednesday.
“Sometimes it would include day trips with the children outside the home.”
Devices searched for evidence
Police are combing through multiple electronic devices, Camp said. One technician spent 20 hours extracting evidence from a single device owned by Temraz, Camp said.
Camp had to collect himself after he was asked about the disturbing circumstances, and the fact that offences were allegedly committed by someone in a position of trust.
“For a vulnerable population like our youth to be in a position where they are offended upon by a person responsible for their care makes the circumstances much more exigent for us,” he said.
Temraz, 40, has been in custody since he was arrested last month, ALERT said.
He faces numerous child exploitation and child pornography charges, including sexual assault, sexual interference and making child pornography.
ALERT said its investigation began after the ICE Unit was notified by the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre about a suspect accessing child pornography.
Once the suspect was identified and arrested, a forensic analysis of his computers and electronic devices uncovered evidence of sexual assault on a child who was in the custody of a local group home, ALERT said.
ALERT said the group home is not being named to help protect the identity of the victim.
Alberta Children’s Services is also continuing to support the investigation and is looking into the matter.
Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee said she was devastated to hear about the assault.
She said there is an extensive screening process for people who work with children but it is not perfect.
“I mean the truth is, with all the screening processes in the world, inevitably you know, some people slip by,” Larivee said.
“As soon as it comes to light, absolutely we immediately take it incredibly seriously and act on it and co-operate fully with the police.”
Temraz appeared in Edmonton provincial court Wednesday. His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 8.
The Edmonton Police Service’s sexual assault section and the Zebra Centre for Child Protection are providing assistance with the investigation.