Toronto police on Saturday charged a hairdresser with sex offences linked to a cross-border investigation into the alleged sexual abuse of children over an 18-year period.
Police in Ottawa, where the alleged abuse first came to light in July, said the case involved grooming, sexual exploitation and offences against “young children.” The investigation has been ongoing in Toronto since June.
“This investigation continues. Charges against additional people may be forthcoming,” Det. Const. Sean Crowley said in a news release.
Ottawa police and Toronto police announced charges against Brian Ferguson, 65, on Friday, and said further charges would be laid. They said they identified 15 victims in the case.
A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the minister was appalled by the allegations. He said the ministry has been in contact with Ottawa police and said a caseworker from the agency’s joint crime team has been in touch with Ottawa police “to encourage them to make further referrals to their municipal counterparts.”
In the months after Washington DC police went public with the alleged abuse in July, police in Toronto, Washington and several other cities said they had arrested Ferguson.
The allegations involve crimes in Washington and other states, including Alabama, Louisiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Maryland, Michigan, Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The case emerged in Ottawa when someone came forward July 6 after seeing a news report in the National Post. Police believe more victims were harmed and that Ottawa police would be reaching out to the media and those identified by police in other jurisdictions, Crowley said.
Ferguson is charged with one count of sexual exploitation and five counts of sexual assault.
Ferguson operated a business in Ottawa, a website shows.