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.
According to Robbs search warrant, McTurk pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and received a two-year conditional discharge no jail time or criminal record, just a promise to stay on good behavior.
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.
Another search warrant, and when police entered his home, they found numerous photographs and videotapes, including one that showed three females, approximately 14 years old, naked and being fondled by McTurk, Robbs search warrant says.
Police arrested McTurk on Sept. 12, 1998.
The RCMP child-sex tourism report says taking images of sexual activity is common: theyre considered trophies, or a way of reliving the experience. And the November 2011 report adds that children are lured with promises of money, clothes and material goods, and that families can receive financial compensation for allowing access.
For the videos taken in Cuba, McTurk received another conviction for possession of child pornography, and another conditional sentence of 18 months, plus another 18 months of probation. According to court documents, McTurk had to surrender his passport and undergo counseling for sex offender treatment programming. And so the trips to Cuba would have to stop, at least until he got his passport back.
But this conviction had another consequence. In 2001, Ontario set up Canadas first sex offender registry, in the wake of the 1988 murder of Christopher Stephenson, who was killed by a convicted pedophile. 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. No need to say when youre traveling if its just short trips and no need to tell anyone where youre going.
Once McTurk had his travel documents returned, he headed back south. He continued to be a regular visitor to Cuba, as Toronto police discovered when McTurks activities came to light for a third time last spring, thanks to the grocery store photo clerk.
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.
Maybe we should start looking at the travel history for everyone we arrest for possession of child pornography, Robb said
Theres a helplessness on the faces of these children that is very striking, Gross added. Whether it be within our borders or outside our borders we have an obligation to these children.