Whitehorse man pleads guilty to child pornography charges

A Whitehorse man has pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography and arranging to commit sexual exploitation of a child.

A Whitehorse man has pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography and arranging to commit sexual exploitation of a child.

Curt Spencer Butler, 47, entered the plea April 7, weeks before his scheduled trial in Yukon Supreme Court. He also pleaded guilty to a firearm charge for improperly storing a handgun.

Butler got caught by a U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigation that ultimately led Whitehorse RCMP to seize thousands of images and videos depicting child pornography.

Crown prosecutor Joanna Phillips detailed the facts of the case.

In May 2014, Homeland Security was conducting an investigation into internet chatrooms and forums used for meeting and engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors and for distributing child pornography.

Between May 5 and May 12, 2014 special agent Scott Beagle started chatting with an individual whose internet protocol (IP) address later turned out to be tied to Butler’s home.

“The individual agreed to send special agent Beagle images depicting child pornography in exchange for being able to direct the special agent and his purported 11-year-old daughter to engage in illicit sex conduct via webcamera,” Phillips said.

In total Butler sent out 25 images to Beagle.

“Afterward (the individual) expressed concerns about what he had done,” Phillips said.

Beagle was able to find out the individual’s IP address and narrowed it down to Whitehorse. He handed off the chat logs to the Vancouver Integrated Child Exploitation unit of the RCMP.

The RCMP obtained a court order revealing the IP address was associated with a Whitehorse residence. Whitehorse RCMP investigated and found out it was Butler’s residence.

In April 2015 Whitehorse RCMP searched the residence — with a warrant — and seized two computers and several CDs and DVDs. They also seized a Ruger 9mm handgun, properly registered but improperly stored in a nightstand.

Butler was arrested at his work and told the RCMP there was more child pornography in his truck. Police recovered a USB key from the truck.

In total police found 9,693 images and videos depicting child pornography, Phillips said. Once the duplicates were removed, they established Butler had in his possession over 2,000 unique images and videos.

Beagle’s undercover work has lead to similar convictions in the U.S. and Canada. The National Post reported in September 2016 that a member of the Canadian Forces was found guilty of arranging to commit sexual exploitation during a similar sting.

Yukon Supreme Court deputy judge John Menzies ordered a psychiatric assessment and a pre-sentencing report.

The case has been adjourned to May 30 to set a date for sentencing.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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