RCMP deploys classified investigative methods in Queens County child porn case


Law enforcement investigating a South Shore child pornography case took highly classified steps to get a glance at Microsoft OneDrive accounts accessed by internet-enabled devices at a Queens County home, newly released court records show.

As part of its rationale to search a Pleasant Avenue home in Mount Pleasant, the RCMP's internet child exploitation (ICE) unit sought permission to use two techniques to access and examine the contents of an internet file-hosting cloud service, according to a 22-page document filed by law enforcement to justify a warrant to look for evidence.

The Information to Obtain (ITO) document, authored by Cpl. Mark Sobieraj of the ICE unit, mentions using the same two steps "if any other cloud storage is located," but the methods don't translate to "access or view the contents of those accounts" as a new warrant would be needed.

The specific techniques are outlined in the ITO but are redacted from view. The ITO, search warrant, and list of what police seized resulting from the search, were released to LighthouseNOW in response to an application to unseal the court records.

The search warrant records centre around the investigation into Liverpool area resident Lauren McKiel, 84, who's charged with possessing child sex abuse material on two separate occasions last year, on June 23 and November 13. Neither the allegations contained in the search records, nor the criminal charges have been tested in court. McKiel has yet to enter a plea, and is presumed innocent.

McKiel is a retired RCMP officer. He was accused of sexually assaulting a girl in the late 1960s while employed as a Mountie in Northern Canada. The charges weren't filed until many years later when he was in retirement, but the Crown withdrew the historic allegations in 2017 "due to what appear to be credibility issues with the alleged victim's testimony," reads the ITO.

Meanwhile, the child exploitation investigation started when ICE learned from the U.S.-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the RCMP's National Child Exploitation Crime Centre that tech giant Microsoft reported a OneDrive user uploaded two files of suspected contraband porn.

One image is allegedly of a naked girl between nine and 12 years of age. The second image, which investigators think may not be criminal, is allegedly of two naked girls, also believed to be nine to 12 years of age, who "are posing holding hands for the camera."

Police secured a search warrant for electronic devices November 9, 2020 after zeroing in on an internet protocol address in Queens County alleged to have uploaded the material.

Authorities seized, among other items, 13 SD cards, three tablets, two laptops, two USB drives, two digital cameras and a hard drive.

The case against McKiel goes in front of a judge again in March as the matter navigates the legal system.

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