Use quotes to find results containing your phrase, exactly, e. James McTurk is He has wispy white hair and glasses, and speaks with a soft Scottish accent. He lives on a pension — and in a jail cell. He has been twice convicted on child pornography charges, and his legal troubles have just intensified: McTurk could become the first person in Canada to be convicted of sex tourism in connection with the abuse of children in Cuba.
He is now one of a very small group of Canadian men to face charges for the crime of child-sex tourism. McTurk does not travel to Cambodia or Thailand, destinations of choice for those who seek sex with children. All of his known and alleged victims have been Cuban girls. All were young, and some were very young — as young as 4. Pearson airport, returning — once again — from Cuba. According to court documents — and to McTurk himself, in interviews with police — he travels there frequently.
Like tens of thousands of convicted sex offenders across Canada, McTurk was free to come and go, whenever he wanted, to destinations where sex is cheap and victims are young. Despite an addition to the Criminal Code in allowing the prosecution of Canadians for crimes committed against children outside the country, child-sex tourists appear to be undeterred, and mostly undetected.
A succession of Canadian governments have declared their intention to eradicate the problem of child-sex tourism, saying children abroad are as deserving of protection from predators as kids in Canada. But there are big loopholes in the system. Supervision of the travel of sex offenders is lax.
The privacy of convicted offenders is prioritized. The process of filing sex tourism charges is an arduous one for police. Ultimately, it appears Canada is failing in its moral obligation to protect children. The same is true in Australia. The United States, U. The job of keeping track of child-sex tourists is becoming even more challenging as new destinations such as Cuba emerge, eclipsing hotspots in southeast Asia. McTurk, Toronto police allege, was one of those tourists. No evidence against McTurk has been heard in court, and the charges against him are unproven.
The case against him and his criminal convictions are detailed in a sworn search warrant, obtained by The Star, along with interviews of investigators. The investigation that led to child-sex tourism charges against the diminutive retired postal worker — which could result in a year sentence if he is convicted — began last spring.
The manager of a grocery store called Toronto police after an upset photo clerk spotted images, in for printing, showing sad, half-naked children. Police are obliged to check on the addresses of sex offenders once a year. Robb and his boss, Detective Sgt. Kim Gross, concluded child pornography charges were justified, and three of those were quickly filed. But this time, Gross wanted her team to pursue child-sex tourism charges against McTurk.
It lays out a travel record, obtained by police from the Canadian Border Services Agency, that indicates McTurk visited Cuba dozens of times over a four-year span. Robb found McTurk had made eight trips to Cuba in , another eight the following year, 10 more in and five in just the first few months of In the four months that police were investigating McTurk in , he visited Cuba twice. He was in Cuba. On July 24, , two weeks after Robb searched the apartment, McTurk arrived on a charter flight back from the beach resort of Varadero.
The detective was there to welcome him home. Robb arranged for McTurk to be stopped by customs officials — who normally would have had no reason to suspect the man of any wrongdoing — and waited. McTurk presented his passport. In an interview, Robb said McTurk had only a carry-on bag when he was arrested. Inside, police found about a dozen electronic devices, including a camera, digital storage cards and USB keys containing images from his trip.
Police retrieved the video and photo evidence and said it appeared he had illegal physical contact with four different girls who appear to range from 4 to 12 years old. Police immediately charged McTurk with possession of, accessing, and importing child pornography. And then they began the arduous legal process of having the child-sex tourism charges filed.
So Robb drew up an application to the attorney general, outlining the case. The charges — six counts of sexual interference and one each of invitation to sexual touching, making child pornography and exposure — were finally signed off on Feb. Through his lawyer, McTurk declined to speak with The Star. The report cites McTurk as saying the girls were 17; at the time, he was In Cuba, the age of consent is 16, so sex with those girls would not have been illegal.
But under the Criminal Code, taking images of anyone under 18 engaging in sexual activity is. Three years later, he was in trouble again, this time after an acquaintance told police he had seen videotapes of McTurk having sex with several Cuban girls.
Police arrested McTurk on Sept. The RCMP child-sex tourism report says taking images of sexual activity is common: But this conviction had another consequence.
Because McTurk was still on probation as a sex offender, he landed on that list, police said. Being placed on the sex offender registry sounds punitive, but in reality, the conditions are not terribly troublesome: Those on the list need to tell police where they live and work, and their address is checked yearly by officers.
Once McTurk had his travel documents returned, he headed back south. And as McTurk waits in a Canadian jail cell, officers investigating his case wonder how many traveling sex offenders are being missed because of loopholes in the law.