Edmonton man, 35, pleads guilty to child luring and possessing child pornography

An Edmonton man accused of sending children sexually explicit material and trying to lure them into sexual meetings pleaded guilty Friday to some of the child exploitation charges he was facing.

Edmonton Court of King's Bench Justice Lynn Michele Angotti convicted Aarron Kowalchuk, 35, on one count of making sexually explicit materials available to a child, one count of child luring and one count of possessing child pornography.

Kowalchuk, who was arrested last year, initially faced more charges, including arrangement of a sexual offence against a child and possession of a prohibited device.

According to an agreed statement of facts, in September 2022, the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children was alerted of an online luring chat involving a man linked to a specific phone number.

The file was referred to the ALERT Internet Child Exploitation unit for more investigation. ALERT — Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams — tackles serious and organized crime.

The agreed statement of facts said an undercover police officer posing as a 13-year-old girl exchanged text messages with Kowalchuk in November 2022.

Kowalchuk told the person he had briefly dated a 13-year-old a couple of months earlier. He later sent multiple photos of himself, some of which were sexually explicit.

Aarron Kowalchuk, 34, was arrested by the ALERT Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) Unit  in Edmonton last month.
According to an agreed statement of facts, Aarron Kowalchuk sent this photo of himself to an undercover police officer who was posing as a 13-year-old girl. (ALERT)

He asked the person to send photos and talked about meeting for sex.

Police arrested and charged Kowalchuk on Feb. 16, 2023 and seized his cellphone, which contained hundreds of child pornography images and several videos.

Police also found a chat conversation between Kowalchuk and a 15-year-old boy, whose identity is protected by a publication ban.

During the 2021 conversation, Kowalchuk proposed meeting up with the boy and told him he had had sex with a 13-year-old boy, and the previous year, a 12-year-old. He said he met minors once in a while on Grindr, a dating app.

Kowalchuk has yet to be sentenced.

His defence lawyer, Rory Ziv, is pursuing a Charter challenge related to conditions at the Edmonton Remand Centre.