Disturbing allegations have come to light surrounding an unlicensed home daycare where the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) said two children under 10 were sexually assaulted.
Investigators have charged a man who lived in the home in the assaults and for making and distributing child sex abuse images.
It all stems from an investigation which started last fall.
The WPS’s Child Abuse Unit zeroed in on a home in the 400 block of Aberdeen Avenue in September 2021 after investigators learned one child under 10 had been sexually assaulted at the home between July and August.
“In October 2021, Robert Dale Prince, 36, of Winnipeg was charged with sexual assault and sexual interference,” Const. Dani McKinnon told a media conference on Friday. “The accused in this matter did reside at this residence and it was also operated as a home daycare.”
McKinnon said the child who was sexually assaulted was attending the home daycare which is unlicensed. McKinnon said while Prince lived at the home, he didn’t operate the daycare.
But the investigation didn’t end there.
This past January the WPS’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit was alerted to child pornography that was uploaded to what police described as a popular social media platform in April 2021.
“They began an investigation and identified Prince as a suspect regarding these online images,” McKinnon said.
McKinnon said a seizure and forensic analysis of an unspecified electronic device belonging to Prince revealed more than 150 photos and videos of child sexual abuse imagery. Investigators said two of the children in those images attended the unlicensed daycare at the home where Prince lived.
Police said one of the children in the images was the child from the initial sexual assault investigation.
Prince, who had been charged and released from custody in October according to court records, was charged again on April 11 with an additional count of sexual assault and sexual interference as well as offences related to making or possessing child pornography for publication. He was taken back into custody where he remains.
It’s a case police understand may be concerning to parents.
“These are crimes of access and opportunity,” McKinnon said. “The offenders in this type of situation…they don’t hide behind the proverbial bushes.”
In a statement emailed to CTV News Winnipeg, the Manitoba government said home child care facilities can be operated without a provincial license but operators can only care for a maximum of four children under 12 and no more than two of those children can be under age two. But the province said it doesn’t monitor unlicensed daycares, prompting police to offer some tips to parents.
“If you are using an unlicensed home daycare or if you’re not sure, first find out if it is licensed or unlicensed but some questions you may want to ask regardless: are criminal and child abuse checks done at this location, who else resides at the home or has frequent access in and out of the home,” McKinnon said.
Families with children who attended the daycare in this case have been notified, McKinnon said.
Officers couldn’t say whether it’s still in operation.
Police said the ICE Unit is still investigating. Anyone with information about the case can contact police at 204-986-6172 or the child abuse unit at 204-986-3296.
Prince is due back in court in May.
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