Ontario man charged with alleged attacks on children

TORONTO – An Toronto man has been arrested on 12 counts of sexual assault, with some alleged incidents allegedly stretching back to 2013, the Peel Regional Police Service said Tuesday.

Halton RCMP first laid charges against Craig David Pearce in November 2017, the police said in a statement.

Pearce, who was 61 at the time, is facing six counts of sexual assault and six counts of sexual interference in relation to incidents dating back to 2013.

Most of the alleged incidents occurred between 2012 and 2013, police said.

Police alleged that some of the incidents involved children under the age of 16 years old.

Det. Inspector Michael Matthews described the man as a “violent offender” and said the possibility of further charges will be considered.

“We’ll continue with our investigation but we can’t speculate on any further charges,” Matthews said.

Halton police said Pearce, who lives in Markham, used to work at St. John’s Catholic Community, a church in North York.

Matthews said after the charges were laid in 2017 the church issued a public statement saying the religious community “continues to provide care and comfort to members who may be impacted by the criminal allegations.”

Matthews said police are providing support to both the victims and the church.

“If victims have any concerns about that support and/or their welfare, then that’s a problem we need to sort out.”

Police said there are a number of former and current members of the congregation at St. John’s who are impacted by the accusations.

“Their safety is paramount for us,” Matthews said.

Police said it is not known if the incidents took place at the church or elsewhere.

The investigations are being handled by Peel Regional Police’s major crimes unit.

Matthews urged members of the public who may have any information in relation to the case to contact Peel police.

Meaghan Gray and Fred Lum, with files from Canadian Press

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