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Orillia teens allegedly targeted for child porn 0

By Roberta Bell, Orillia Packet & Times

Sandy Thorburn

Sandy Thorburn

A Toronto man has been arrested on allegations of making child pornography after meeting with teenaged girls at hotels in Orillia and Barrie.

Police said he met the girls, who were under the impression he was a modelling photographer.

Hugh “Sandy” Thorburn, 49, was arrested Friday in the parking lot of the Monte Carlo Inn on Hart Drive in Barrie while in the company of a 17-year-old girl, said Det.-Sgt. Terry Paddon, head of the OPP’s child sexual exploitation unit. He has been charged with one count of making child pornography, one count of possessing child pornography, two counts of juvenile prostitution and two counts of Internet luring.

On June 24, the child sexual exploitation unit received a complaint from the family of a 16-year-old Orillia girl contacted by the accused via social media, Paddon said, noting the girl never met with him.

“It became apparent that this was going to be bigger than we anticipated initially,” he said. “There was going to be more than just an online component to it.”

Working in conjunction with Orillia OPP, the child sexual exploitation unit identified other teenaged girls in the area allegedly contacted this spring by the accused, who used aliases that included Ryan Wardle, Lydia Lensky, Theron Sypra and Andre Stein and claimed to represent Model Mayhem, Model Desire and TalentsMLS.com modelling agencies to gain the trust of his victims, said Paddon.

While information was available online about some of the aliases and agencies, Paddon believes the accused — who is said to have paid the girls for the photographs and, in several instances, offered them money in exchange for sexual services — posted it himself to create legitimacy around his guise.

“I don’t think initially they were of the belief or knowledge they were showing up for pornography pictures by any means,” Paddon said.

He noted some of the photographs retrieved after OPP executed a search warrant at Thorburn’s Coxwell Avenue home were pornographic in nature and in others, “the girls were clothed or clothed in such a way that they were believed to be modelling pictures.”

Distribution charges have not been laid, Paddon said, noting the investigation is ongoing and further charges are pending.

It’s unclear why the accused had allegedly been targeting girls in the Orillia area.

“I don’t know the answer to that question,” Paddon said. “It’s something that I’ve asked myself since the beginning of this whole thing, when we came to the realization our offender lived in Toronto.”

Thorburn was a contract lecturer at Lakehead University’s Orillia campus from 2008 until 2012, teaching music courses, confirmed spokesperson Kathy Hunt. She noted he is no longer employed there.

“We have no evidence to suggest there was any connection (with) what he was doing at Lakehead,” Paddon said. “None of the victims that I’m aware of are even old enough to have any association to Lakehead University.”

Thorburn, who has also taught at the University of Toronto and University of Waterloo, was the director and narrator of Theatre Collingwood’s Billy Bishop Goes to War, currently onstage at the Gayety Theatre.

Theatre Collingwood’s executive director, Erica Angus, said the company was told Friday that Thorburn, whose role has been filled by Greg Gibson, wouldn’t be able to make that evening’s performance because of an emergency and might not be available for the weekend ones, either.

It wasn’t until Monday night, when news of Thorburn’s arrest was made public, that Theatre Collingwood realized what happened.

Thorburn was hired specifically for the Billy Bishop show on a short-term contractual basis and “is no longer employed by Theatre Collingwood,” Angus said.

Theatre Collingwood is not the only community theatre company in the area to be affected by Thorburn’s arrest. The New Actor’s Colony Theatre in Bala was scheduled to present The Red Row in early August, a production co-written and performed by Thorburn and Frank MacKay.

The company’s artistic director, Eva Moore, said the show has been cancelled and she is in negotiations to present some Best in Fringe shows from Toronto.

Paddon said it is not yet known how many victims there are.

“There’s a lot of evidence that hasn’t been sifted through yet,” he said.

A bail hearing was scheduled Monday for Thorburn, who is being held in custody, in Barrie provincial court, but it was deferred until July 22.

Anyone who may have had dealings with the above aliases or agencies or who may have additional information pertaining to the investigation is asked to contact the OPP child sexual exploitation unit at 705-330-3240.

— With files from QMI Agency

roberta.bell@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @roberta__bell


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