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    Toronto man convicted of tourist sex crimes in Cuba

    Posted on Friday, 06.14.13

    Toronto man convicted of tourist sex crimes in Cuba
    By Robert Cribb Jennifer Quinn and Julian Sher
    Toronto Star

    An elderly Toronto man became the first Canadian convicted of sex crimes
    committed against children in Cuba after he pleaded guilty Friday to six
    counts, including little-used child sex tourism charges.

    James McTurk admitted offenses against girls as young as 3 during a
    brief appearance.

    Prosecutors are now considering seeking a dangerous offender order
    against the 78-year-old — a move which could see various measures taken
    against McTurk, including keeping him behind bars for the rest of his life.

    When asked by Justice Charles Vaillancourt how he pleaded to the charges
    — one count of making child pornography, another of importing child
    pornography, three counts of sexual interference and a final count of
    invitation to sexual touching — McTurk replied “guilty,” in a soft voice.

    McTurk was the first person to be charged by Toronto police with the
    little-used child sex tourism offenses.

    His case was the subject of a Toronto Star investigation which examined
    how sex offenders are largely free to travel abroad to commit crimes,
    despite the amendment of the Criminal Code by the Canadian government to
    allow the prosecution of people who travel abroad to seek sex with children.

    On Friday, the retired postal worked becomes just the sixth known
    conviction under the law — and the first whose offenses were committed
    in Cuba.

    Despite two previous convictions for child pornography — in 1995 and
    1998 — and being placed on the sex offender’s registry, McTurk was free
    to travel. The court was told that he made 31 trips to the island,
    between 2009 and his arrest in July 2012.

    Toronto police began investigating McTurk when he went to a North York
    store to have pictures from a trip to Cuba printed, and what the photo
    clerk saw — images of unsmiling, topless little girls — alarmed her.

    “The employee at the photo lab became concerned about these photos
    because the girls appeared to be frightened,” prosecutor Anna Stanford said.

    Police were called, and detectives executed a search warrant at McTurk’s

    Officers arrested McTurk on July 24, 2012, at Toronto’s Pearson
    International Airport, as he returned home from yet another trip to Cuba

    Graphic evidence of the images and videos discovered in his North York
    apartment and on digital cards carried by McTurk when he was arrested
    were entered into evidence in court. Stanford quietly read detailed
    descriptions of what detectives found.

    They included close-up images of the body parts of young girls, and
    McTurk in sexual situations with the same children. In one video,
    Stanford said, McTurk is seen forcing his tongue into a 3-year-old
    girl’s mouth.

    “He continuously pulls her to him as she appears to resist, and
    repeatedly inserts his tongue into the child’s mouth,” she said, reading
    from an agreed statement of facts. “He then gives the child a candy and
    lets her go.”

    In an interview with detectives, McTurk said he knew one of the girl’s
    grandmothers, who he met two decades ago in Cuba.

    “She was on the beach and was hungry, so he fed her,” Stanford said. “He
    maintained contact with her and stayed with her and her family regularly
    when he visited Cuba. He gave her a couple hundred pesos — approximately
    $240 — each time he visited.”

    McTurk’s case is to return to court in August, when the Crown will ask
    for the dangerous offender order. Six other charges against McTurk are
    to be withdrawn.

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