#childpredator | former young australian award finalist apologises in court

A former Young South Australian of the Year finalist who admitted possessing child pornography and exchanging nude pictures with teenagers online has apologised in court.

William Russell, 25, set up the Teen Support Network, which promotes online safety for young people, in 2012.

But the District Court in Adelaide heard on Monday that Russell exchanged nude pictures with a 15-year-old boy on Snapchat and encouraged the boy to meet him in a park “to kiss and hug”.

He exploited a second 15-year-old boy on the Kik messaging app and has admitted possessing 51 child pornography images, which were found by police at his home.

Prosecutor Andrew Fowler-Walker said while it is not alleged Russell used his support network to make contact with the boys, he exploited them while claiming to help teens bullied online.

He said Russell came to the attention of police after an article was published about the network in 2017, and an investigation followed.

“He was not honest in that article when he said that he used the Teen Support Network to warn young children of the threat of online sexual predators,” he said.

Russell has pleaded guilty to charges including procuring a child for sexual activity and aggravated possessing child exploitation material.

Chief Judge Michael Evans continued Russell’s bail ahead of sentencing in November.

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