A western Sydney junior soccer volunteer has faced court over almost 200 charges relating to the alleged sexual abuse of young children that he filmed and shared in a global online network.

Grant Harden, from St Clair, was initially arrested in May 2020 and charged with 44 child sexual abuse offences - including multiple counts of sexual intercourse with a child under 10 years.

He faced a further 152 charges at Sydney Central Local Court on Thursday for allegedly sexually abusing young children and filming the abuse for online distribution.

Harden's 2020 arrest was part of Australian Federal Police Operation Arkstone, a large-scale investigation into a global online network of alleged child sex offenders.

Operation Arkstone has so far arrested 20 men, who are facing 1026 charges relating to child sexual abuse and in some cases bestiality offences.

The 31-year-old Sydney man when he was arrested in May 2020. Picture: AFP
The 31-year-old Sydney man when he was arrested in May 2020. Picture: AFP

 

The man is facing almost 196 charges of child sexual abuse and bestiality. Picture: AFP
The man is facing almost 196 charges of child sexual abuse and bestiality. Picture: AFP

The operation has removed 53 children from further harm in Australia, but AFP Commander Hilda Sirec said there were more pedophiles out there.

"As a society we still find it too confrontational to talk about child sexual abuse and exploitation, so we must have more conversations with the community and inform them that this crime is more pervasive and widespread than realised," she said.

"During COVID-19, the prevalence of child exploitation has gotten worse.

"Our officers are continuing to identify alleged offenders through Operation Arkstone and, like today's additional charges, will ensure every offence is accounted for, whether that person has three or 188 charges laid against them.

"No offence is too small when dealing with child sexual abuse."

It comes after an arrest on Wednesday of a 31-year-old North Sydney man, who became the 20th arrest of Operation Arkstone.

AFP investigators executed a search warrant at his residence in Willoughby.

He was charged with one count of possessing or controlling child abuse material obtained or accessed using a carriage service and is due to appear in Downing Centre Court on April 15.

Originally published as Coach charged with bestiality, child sex



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