Update: Mark Anderson pleaded guilty in July in to making and possessing child pornography. His sentencing is scheduled for December 17.
Following an investigation launched in July, 44-year-old elementary school teacher Mark Anderson was arrested Thursday and charged with possessing, accessing and distributing child pornography.
Anderson, a fourth-grade teacher at Napi’s Playground Elementary School on the Piikani Nation Reserve, was arrested with the combined efforts of Pincher Creek RCMP, Piikani Nation RCMP and Lethbridge Police.
According to a press release from Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT), the charges pertain to online offences at this time, but Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) is asking for anyone with information to contact local police or through cybertip.ca
The Calgary Journal previously ran a story on Anderson April 28, 2017, highlighting his community involvement and acceptance within the Piikani Nation, which is located east of Pincher Creek, Alta., despite being of European descent.
In addition to being a teacher, Anderson was involved with the Piikani Powwow Committee, Piikani Minor Hockey League Association and he organized the local princess pageant. Anderson has seven children, including two of Blackfoot descent.
A former Piikani chief and elder gave Anderson a Blackfoot name, Piitawotaan, to honour his commitment to the community.
ICE, a team consisting of Lethbridge Police, Calgary Police, Medicine Hat Police and members of the RCMP, began the investigation after receiving a referral from the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children after they discovered “child sexual exploitation materials” uploaded on social media. Eventually, ICE identified the user and “only recently learned the suspect was a teacher.”
Computers and other electronic devices were seized from Anderson’s home in Pincher Creek and will now be forensically examined.
Anderson is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 30, 2018.
According to the Criminal Code of Canada, a person found guilty of distributing child pornography faces a minimum prison sentence of one year and a maximum sentence of 14 years.