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THUNDER BAY -- City police arrested an early childhood educator with possession of child pornography after learning he may have tried to extort a woman in a nude image he had.
Officers with the Thunder Bay Police Service received an extortion complaint from a young woman saying an unknown male had nude photos of her from when she was underage.
That person was said to be using the photographs to extort the victim. Police spokeswoman Julie Tilbury wouldn’t confirm whether those photographs were found, but a cyber investigation led police to a Shuniah Township home.
“This is an unusual type of complaint for our department, however with the advancement of electronic technology these types of things are just going to possibly be more prevalent,” Tilbury said.
After searching that home, police found electronic devices containing images of child pornography.
On Friday, Jan. 11, city police officers arrested Mark Lehtonen, 29, for possession of child pornography, distribution of child pornography and extortion.
The suspect remains in custody at the district jail, and was expected to make a court appearance Monday afternoon.
The suspect is employed as an early childhood educator in the city. The agencies he is employed at have been notified of his arrest and are now notifying families that used the services. Tilbury said he is employed at two daycares in the city. None of the images found have been linked to children at the centres.
Little Lions Waldorf Daycare and Kindergarten administrative officer Marilyn Grudniski confirmed that Lehtonen had worked out of Little Lions’ St. Pius X School location but not since August 2011. Any parents who might have concerns are encouraged to contact her directly.
During the initial search of the home, police also located numerous female
undergarments. Police are asking the public to contact them at 807-684-1200 if anyone believes they are missing similar clothing items within the past year.
“These types of behaviours are indicative of other types of potential criminal activity,” Tilbury said. “We just want to make sure we’re covering all of our bases for the safety of the community.”
The extortion allegations mark an eerie resemblance to the story of Amanda Todd, a young girl who committed suicide as a result of intense bullying.
In a Youtube video the B.C. Girl posted before her suicide, Amanda chronicles her experiences of being bullied using flashcards. She wrote that she was in Grade 7 when a stranger convinced the young girl to bare her breasts during a video chat.
The image was used in an attempt to extort the girl. When the extortion failed the images began circulating the Internet. A Facebook page was later created, which is said to have led to the bullying, stress and depression that eventually resulted in the girl's Oct. 10, 2012, suicide.
Charges against the accused have not been proven in court.
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