VANCOUVER -- A Burnaby man has been charged in connection to a child sexual assault investigation, local police say.

Burnaby Mounties announced several charges Tuesday against a man who allegedly assaulted a female child he met online. 

Police say the man befriended her online, arranged to meet with her, then sexually assaulted her.

The victim and her mother reported the incident on May 7. 

The RCMP's Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Unit, or CASO, took over the investigation and several charges have been approved by the BC Prosecution Service including:

  • Sexual assault with a weapon
  • Sexual interference
  • Luring a child
  • Possession of a restricted weapon
  • Using a firearm in the commission of an offence

The suspect is still in custody. 

Police couldn't give any additional details about the victim or suspect because of a publication ban and the matter being before the courts.

Warnings about online platforms

Cpl. Mike Kalanj with Burnaby RCMP emphasized the importance of parents talking to their kids about online interactions and potential risks, especially as many social connections have transitioned online during the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

"I want anyone who has children in their life to broach the subject … young people, adults are online almost constantly now. So our plea today is to have that conversation," he said Tuesday. 

"It's an easier conversation than to have to discuss an incident like this with your kids after its happened."

Last week, Surrey RCMP said incidents relating to child pornography had increased in their city over the past three years and issued a similar warning to parents

"Many of these game consoles and apps actually have chat features in them, and predators often pose as children to befriend kids online," said Surrey RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Elenore Sturko. 

"Unfortunately, right now, with the increase of screen time and the use of apps that we have there could be more cases, more instances of victimization."