California man accused of threatening N.S. child and 19 others

A phone call from an eight-year-old child in Nova Scotia has led to the arrest of a 38-year-old man in California.

The child called 911 in May of last year to report receiving threatening messages over social media.

The child told police a man had threatened to harm them and their family if they didn't send intimate images over the social platform, Nova Scotia RCMP said Thursday in a news release.

The man had already sent intimate images to the child, the release said.

RCMP said that although the parents were home, the child called police on their own.

"The child was afraid of getting in trouble; I think we can all relate to that, having been children before," Const. Dave Trenholm said in an interview.

"But they obviously had received some advice in the past that when you're in trouble, you call for help, you look to the helpers. So they called 911, they felt comfortable and confident doing that. And just going over this file, I think we all think that's pretty exceptional."

Trenholm is part of the RCMP detachment in West Hants that handled the case.

He said police were able to extract information from the family's electronic devices that identified an IP address in California.

They handed that information over to the U.S. Homeland Security Department, who arrested the man in Sacramento.

According to RCMP, the American admitted victimizing 20 children, including the Nova Scotian.

Trenholm said the child was courageous and the case should serve as an example for parents.

"It's an uphill battle with technology; parents need to stay a step ahead as much as they can," he said.

"You know, everything is changing online but teach your kids to be comfortable talking about who they're talking to and what platforms they're using. Not every platform out there is appropriate for kids."