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Calgary teacher who preyed on dozens of underage girls pleads guilty to 17 sex offences

Calgary teacher who preyed on dozens of underage girls pleads guilty to 17 sex offences

Former Calgary teacher Christian Sarile has pleaded guilty to 17 charges involving dozens of child victims over an eight-year period. 

The sexual predator admitted to targeting girls as young as 12 whom he would pay to perform sexual acts. At the time of his first arrest, in May 2017, Sarile was a Grade 6 teacher and also taught music. 

The Calgary police investigation dubbed Operation Choir found Sarile would pay the underage girls in money, drugs, alcohol and vaporizers in exchange for sex and nude photos.

On Thursday, Court of Queen’s Bench Earl Wilson accepted the plea negotiated between prosecutors Martha O’Connor and Aurelie Beland and defence lawyer Yoav Niv.

He pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault, paying minors for sexual services, sexual extortion, luring and making child pornography.

A 78-page agreed statement of facts was read aloud by the two prosecutors, giving the disturbing details of each of Sarile’s crimes involving every victim.  

Threats and bribes

In several cases, Sarile targeted girls who were particularly vulnerable — one teen was drunk, another told Sarile she was cutting herself. He even targeted children who attended the schools where he worked. 

Sarile sent tens of thousands of messages to his victims over various social media sites like Snapchat, Instagram and AskFM.

When the girls stopped sending him sexual photos, Sarile threatened to send the nude images to their friends and families. 

In the summer of 2016, Sarile met one of his victims, whom he began paying for oral sex. She was 14 at the time; he was 26 years old. 

The girl had two friends who were 13 and 14 and both of those girls also began sexual relationships with Sarile, who was lying about his identity and age. 

On one occasion, Sarile made the girls wear blindfolds while they took turns giving him oral sex in the back of his father’s van. He made a video of the encounter, which was later recovered by police. 

In several cases, while pretending to be someone else, Sarile would contact his victims and threaten them if they did not perform sexual acts. Out of fear he would release their nude photos, some of the teens complied and had sexual contact with Sarile.

Taking advantage

After Sarile was arrested on May 2, 2017, he admitted he knew the girls he’d had contact with were underage and that he’d been taking advantage of them. He said he knew what he’d done was wrong. 

Calgary police were concerned about the possibility of more victims so a press release was sent out on May 3, 2017. Investigators were contacted by 30 people. 

He was released on bail but Sarile continued to prey on underage girls.

On Dec. 5, 2017, while under police surveillance, Sarile was observed picking up a 14-year-old at a Calgary junior high school. He drove to an LRT parking lot where she performed oral sex on Sarile before she got out of the car and he drove away.

Police accelerated their planned arrest of Sarile to Dec. 7, 2017. He has been in custody ever since.

A sentencing hearing will take place later this year. 

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Baby news? Calgary zoo hoping for giant panda pregnancy

Baby news? Calgary zoo hoping for giant panda pregnancy

Panda handlers are on baby watch at the Calgary zoo after Er Shun, a giant panda on loan from China, was inseminated on Tuesday.

Colleen Baird, manager of animal care for the zoo, says it could take several weeks to find out if Calgary will be the birthplace of any panda babies. 

The process is delicate. For the past few weeks, handlers have been carefully monitoring the female’s estrogen and progesterone levels to pinpoint the narrow window of opportunity for pregnancy, Baird told the Calgary Eyeopener. Giant pandas ovulate only once per year.

“There’s a certain point when she cycles that it’s time to inseminate, and those values are what we need to make sure we have the right timing,” Baird said.

“It’s about two to three days. We have a Chinese specialist here with us who does insemination. We consult with him and make sure that we’re on the right track. And he felt really good about where we were, and the way that the insemination was — we’re feeling pretty confident.”

Preparations involved “a lot of collecting urine” and keeping Er Shun happy and calm during the spring mating season.

“That can be tough when pandas are going through cycles, because she’s experiencing quite a change in hormones,” Baird said.

Zoo staff are hoping Er Shun, the adult female giant panda, will soon become pregnant. Er Shun is one of four giant pandas on loan from China. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Gestation usually takes between 95 and 160 days. 

“One thing is that we we use frozen sperm, and that’s dictated by China,” Baird said. “And so we’ll see how our chances are, which is never as good as fresh. But I got to see the samples through a microscope and there’s lots of swimmers in there. So we’re hoping.”

The father is not Da Mao, the male giant panda who is also at the Calgary Zoo, but a donor from China, which Baird says has to do with lineage. 

“This go around, Da Mao might not be the best genetic match,” she said. “As the population changes and more of his lineage or relatives are producing more cubs and pandas, his value decreases. So this year using Da Mao wasn’t really an option. The frozen ones had a better genetic match with Er Shun for this go around. We’re hoping that we get cubs.”

Baird says it could take a while to find out whether the panda has become pregnant. There’s no blood test, and giant pandas don’t necessarily show their pregnancies.

“Pandas are complicated because they’re delayed implanters. So if we were successful at fertilizing the egg, that egg can be floating around unattached to the uterus. And there’s a lot of environmental factors and hormonal factors that tell her when the right time is for that egg to implant, that says, ‘Hey, I can take care of this cub and I’m healthy enough, I’m safe enough to do so,'” she said. “So we don’t know when that moment happens. It’s kind of a mystery.”

Baird said the team will wait “several weeks” before checking via ultrasound.

“It could still be weeks and weeks before the egg will implant,” she said. “So it’s a guessing game, but we’ll start taking a peek probably in late May or early June.”

The Calgary Zoo welcomed four giant pandas last spring: Da Mao, Er Shun and her two cubs, Jia YueYue and Jia PanPan. The rare animals are on loan from China for five years, housed in an exhibit called Panda Passage.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

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Labour code issues flagged in fatal CP Rail accident in Calgary

Labour code issues flagged in fatal CP Rail accident in Calgary

Documents show a federal investigator flagged labour code contraventions after a Canadian Pacific Railway train conductor died in a workplace accident in a Calgary rail yard last November.

A Transport Canada rail safety inspector, delegated by Alberta’s labour minister, raised the issues in a letter Friday to the railway’s assistant vice-president of safety.

A written directive attached to the letter, obtained by The Canadian Press, raises concerns over the company failing to identify and assess hazards to employees resulting from increased switching in the rail yard.

Another directive says the railway failed to secure and maintain the accident scene, and removed, interfered with and disturbed wreckage and other things without authorization.

Fix issues, company told

A spokeswoman for Employment and Social Development Canada declined to comment on the specifics of the investigation because it is ongoing.

Canadian Pacific did not immediately provide comment.

The documents say the railway has until March 8 to inform the inspector of measures taken to make sure the failure of maintaining the accident scene doesn’t happen again.

It has until March 22 to fix issues related to the safety of the rail yard. The company was also told it can request a review by the Occupational Health and Safety Tribunal Canada.

Federal officials are investigating a separate Canadian Pacific accident that killed a conductor, engineer and trainee earlier this month near Field, B.C., just west of the Alberta-British Columbia boundary.

A Transportation Safety Board investigator has said the westbound train was parked on a grade for two hours, with its air brakes applied, when it started rolling on its own.

The train sped up to well above the limit and derailed at a curve ahead of a bridge over the Kicking Horse River, sending 99 cars and two locomotives hurtling off the tracks.

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