A spokesperson for the cadets program says the organization does not have “any reason to believe that any former or current cadets are implicated” in the child pornography case against an instructor with strong ties to the Saanich Peninsula.
“We took immediate and decisive action and we don’t have any reason to believe that anyone connected with the cadet organization has been implicated,” said Capt. Sheryl Major, public affairs officer for the Regional Cadet Support Unit Pacific.
Central Saanich police charged Maj. Michael Ryan Tellier, 35, with one count of possession of child pornography last week. Major said the program immediately suspended Tellier following his original arrest on Sept. 30 and ordered him not to have any interactions with cadets, the program or any of its activities.
Major said the “protection, safety and well-being” of cadets is a priority. “Youth and their parents have to have confidence that the Canadian Armed Forces members that support the cadet program, whether they are on duty or off duty are held to a very high standard of conduct and performance,” she said.
Major said Tellier commanded the 89 Pacific Air Squadron in Victoria at the time of his arrest on Sept. 30. He was also the commanding officer of the 676 Kittyhawk Royal Canadian Air Cadets in North Saanich. While Major could not offer a chronology of Tellier’s time with the North Saanich squadron, she said he “was highly involved” and “closely connected.”
“To the best of our knowledge, we don’t have any reason to believe that we had any cadets involved in this,” she said.
Major said the cadet program has many screening processes in place.
“In addition to the Canadian Armed Forces reliability screening that is required of all members, the cadet instructors, cadre officers and any adult with direct supervision, access or control of cadets is required to have an up-to-date police record check conducted by a local police agency. And they also have to provide a vulnerable sector screening, which has to be updated every five years.”
Major said all of the screenings and up-to-date records were in place when police arrested Tellier. She could not comment on Tellier’s prior service record citing privacy stipulations.
Following his arrest, police released Tellier on conditions that include not to engage in activities, volunteer work or employment that could bring them in contact with persons under the age of 18. He is due to appear in court again on Jan. 11, 2021.
“Once the civilian justice process has been completed, an administrative review will be conducted to determine whether this member is still suitable for future employment with the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Major.
“This one situation. We don’t believe there is any link between this and any other incident anywhere. We believe that parents and youth can have full confidence in everybody who is supporting the cadet organizations,” she said.
The Peninsula News Review reached out to 676 Kittyhawk Royal Canadian Air Cadets in North Saanich for comment.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Central Saanich Police Service at 250-652-4441.
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