A Toronto man is facing dozens of charges after a disabled woman was lured online and sexually assaulted when she arrived, local police said.
Toronto Police Det. Sgt. Kim Gross said officers were first notified of the suspect in the spring by a police force west of the city. Gross did not identify which jurisdiction provided the tip, saying the investigation is ongoing.
Officers were told that a Toronto resident, who was already known to police, was being investigated as part of a luring case.
Toronto police began its own investigation into claims that a man was using social media to meet with an 18-year-old female victim with special needs.
"Though she is a young adult, her mind operates at the age of approximately 12 years," Gross said at a news conference Wednesday.
Gross said the victim talked to a female "third party" for a period of two months, and developed a friendship online. She was then then invited to Toronto at the request of the male suspect, police said.
The victim took a bus to Toronto, and met up with a man downtown. Police said she was then sexually assaulted by the man numerous times over a period of two months.
Gross said at least two more potential victims have been identified in the case. One of the females who have come forward is 18, and the other is a teenager, she said.
Patrick Pearsall, 50, has been charged with 17 counts of sexual assault and 17 counts of sexual exploitation of a person with a disability. He has also been charged with failure to comply with probation.
"It is believed that Mr. Pearsall targets vulnerable girls who are challenged or at risk, and we are looking to see if there are more victims out there who want to come forward," Gross said.
She said Pearsall is "transient" and has been known to travel to Belleville, Brighton, Barrie, Guelph, Trenton, Cornwall, London and Ottawa. He has also spent time in Alberta and Nova Scotia.
Gross said the third person, who invited the first victim to Toronto, is still being interviewed.
"At this point, I think I can safely say that she has some issues of her own that may have affected her judgement," Gross said, without providing further details.
The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with more information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7474, or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477 (TIPS).