Toronto

Man charged after 3 children sexually assaulted at places of worship, Toronto police say

A man accused of "jumping" between places of worship to find children to victimize has been charged with multiple counts of sexual assault and making child pornography, Toronto police said Thursday. 

32-year-old charged with multiple counts of sexual assault; police believe there may be more victims

Const. Don Bai said the suspect went to places of worship frequented by the Filipino community. (CBC)

A man accused of "jumping" between places of worship where he found children to victimize has been charged with multiple counts of sexual assault and making child pornography, Toronto police said Thursday. 

The 32-year-old suspect went to places of worship frequented by the Filipino community in North York, said Const. Don Bai at a news conference Thursday morning.

Police found images and video of him sexually assaulting children, Bai said. Some of the assaults were recorded at places of worship. 

Three of the children have been identified by investigators but Bai said there is evidence of more victims.

The three children are currently safe, Bai said. He did not provide any of their ages or genders, describing them only as "prepubescent." 

Known and trusted by community

The accused attended at least two different places of worship in the past year and was known and trusted by other congregants, Bai told reporters. 

He appeared to go "from one place to the next," Bai said.

The Word & Life Christian Assembly at 500 Coldstream Ave. and the Jesus Reigns Forever International Ministry at 1177 Finch Ave. W. are two places he is known to have gone, police said. 

Bai appealed for the public's help to identify other places of worship he may have attended. 

He urged anybody who thinks their children may have interacted with the suspect — or interacted with him personally in any way — to contact police immediately.

'Shocked and devastated'

Investigators are working closely with pastors at the various places of worship, who Bai said were "devastated" by the news.

These communities "welcomed him into their family," Bai said.

"They trusted him. He had access to their children and I believe he used this trust."

Officers executed a search warrant at the suspect's home on June 12 near the corner of Bathurst Street and Sheppard Avenue W.

He is scheduled to appear in Toronto court on Friday morning.

The investigation began after Facebook notified U.S. law enforcement that somebody was distributing child abuse material online, Bai said. The Toronto police sex crimes unit began their investigation in March.

Bai added there is currently no evidence the man was trading or distributing the videos.

The man was charged with the following:

  • Five counts of sexual assault.
  • Five counts of sexual interference.
  • Six counts of making child pornography.
  • Two counts of possessing child pornography.
  • Two counts of accessing child pornography.
  • One count of distributing child pornography.
  • One count of voyeurism.

The investigation is ongoing. Bai said he victimized one child on more than one occasion.