THE arrest of a suspected child rapist in WA has helped expose a nationwide paedophile ring whose high-profile members allegedly include school teachers and a Sydney-based Channel 9 reporter.
A Current Affair journalist Ben McCormack was arrested early last month after WA Police discovered the ring’s membership list as a result of an investigation that started in February with the arrest of the alleged offender in the State’s south.
That arrest gave police access to phone records, computer files and websites that the alleged child rapist had used to communicate with other members of the ring.
WA Police then shared that information with State and Federal counterparts who target apparent online predators, leading to inquiries around the country.
Investigators were not willing to discuss details of the operation yesterday, but it is understood the arrest of a WA Catholic primary school teacher in March was linked to the case.
It is understood a second teacher based in Queensland is also among those arrested.
The alleged offender who sparked the initial inquiry is facing 35 charges, including child rape and child pornography offences, while the WA teacher has been charged with child pornography offences.
NSW Police allege Mr McCormack, who has worked at Nine’s ACA for more than a decade, had shared sexually explicit fantasies about children over the internet with another alleged paedophile. He is also charged with using a carriage service to send child exploitation material.
NSW media have reported that police will allege Mr McCormack had been involved in child pornography “chat and exchange of pictures” for the past two years.
Mr McCormack was one journalist to pursue Hey Dad! actor Robert Hughes over child sex abuse allegations and described the crimes as “horrific”.
The WA and Federal police task force known as the Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team is leading the local inquiry into the suspected paedophile ring.