Grade 3 teacher among those charged in child porn ring

A Grade 3 teacher and a Quebec scouts association leader are among 13 men accused of collaborating together in an online child pornography ring.

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Investigators allege that the men discussed their experiences sexually abusing children and swapped tactics and places to find victims.

The accused men, who are between 27 and 74 years old, were arrested and hard drives were confiscated on Wednesday in co-ordinated raids in six cities across the province.

Charges include possession and distribution of child pornography and relate to incidents ranging back to 2003.

Among those arrested are third grade teacher Claude Paquette, 31, and youth scouts leader Dave Turcotte, 36, who had been kicked out of another youth organization for driving a child home unaccompanied.

Paquette has been suspended from Ecole Primaire Ile des Soeurs in Montreal and students have been offered counselling services. The school board sent a letter home advising parents how to discuss the topic with their kids.

“Everybody just had the same reaction: total shock,” parent Gloria Pacitto told CTV News.

Paquette and Turcotte knew each other personally through volunteer work with L'Association des aventuriers de Baden-Powell (AABP), a youth scouting organization.

The men volunteered with kids aged 9 to 12 in Outremont and Beloeil for about two hours each week. They’d held the roles for the past five months.

"We know that scouting, it's an association where people who have some deviance want to go there, and we try to do the best to protect them but we don't have 100 per cent activity," AABP vice-president Nicolas Rousseau told CTV Montreal.

The two suspects had clear records when they joined the scouting organization, Rousseau said.

"These two guys don't have criminal records before, they show up with good references and everything was good for us," said Rousseau.

Before joining the AABP, Turcotte had been abruptly dismissed from the Association des Scouts du Canada for driving a scout home alone -- a violation of the organization’s policy.

"(Dave Turcotte) was kicked out of the Association des Scouts du Canada in July 2015. He drove a child home without another scout leader in the car, which violates our rules," said spokesperson Philippe Jacques.

The 13 men remain in custody pending their upcoming court appearances. Bail hearings are set for Tuesday, Feb. 2.

None of the allegations against them have been proven in court.

With files from CTV News’ Kevin Gallagher and CTV Montreal



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