Man charged with sexual offences involving children
Last Updated Tuesday, April 15, 2014 7:06PM EDT
Police have arrested a man they say posted ads online trying to meet young families.
He posted the ads, police say, because he wanted access to the children.
The investigation started about a year ago. That’s when officers came across some online postings where a man was looking for a relationship with single parents living in the Newmarket area. Police say that man turned out to be a registered sex offender from Holland Landing in East Gwillimbury.
Frank Cunningham, 33, is facing a number of charges stemming from what police say were his plans to sexually assault children.
York Regional Police and Toronto Police Service have been working together on the case. They say an undercover officer posing as a single mother with two kids got in touch with Cunningham online though some postings he made.
They were postings looking for an ‘intimate relationship’ with single parents of young kids – babies or toddlers.
“This person then engaged in several online offences against children, offences that were plotted against children, were committed, and eventually this led to a real-life meeting between Mr. Cunningham and an undercover officer,” says YRP Sgt. Clint Whitney.
That meeting was in Toronto last Tuesday, and Cunningham was arrested. He is now in police custody.
Whitney was part of the investigation that unfolded over the past year. He says the concern now is whether any kids have been assaulted.
“We’re concerned that there are other people out there who have had contact with this person,” he says. “Our investigation leads us to believe that he’s had a lot of online activities and there’s been a lot of opportunity to contact him. His ads, when he posts them, are rather innocent looking.”
CTV News did a quick search on Craigslist today and found at least one ad, posted last month, police say is his. The title reads: “Any Single Mom For LTR (Long Term Relationship) Dating”
There’s a picture attached of a baby’s feet.
At the very end of the ad, there’s a request that anybody responding include their kids’ ages in the subject line.
A police source confirms to CTV News this is one of the ads posted by the accused.
York Regional Police say that since the arrest they have searched Cunningham’s home in Holland Landing and seized computers and alleged child pornography.
Investigators now believe there may be victims and witnesses who haven’t come forward yet. They are looking for anyone who recognizes him to contact police.
Officers say he has used several email address online, including: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Frank.firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Ecummings@yahoo.ca; Jcummimgs@yahoo.ca; and Rmomo@yahoo.ca.
Cunningham was held in custody and is due in Newmarket court April 17.
Another time he was charged
NEWMARKET – One more strike and this twice-convicted sex offender should be locked away from our children for a good long time.
Frank Cunningham, 33, is a registered sex offender with a heinous rap sheet: in 2004 he was convicted of sexually assaulting a little girl and received a slap on the wrist. In 2005, he was nailed for luring a child over the Internet and landed himself a place of dishonour on Ontario’s sex offender registry as well as some lengthier jail time.
Now the Holland Landing man is back before the courts — this time after York Regional Police allege he’s been using online sites since May 2012 to befriend vulnerable single parents so that he could sexually abuse their children. He was arrested last Tuesday in Toronto during a meeting he’d set up with a single mom for the purposes, police allege, of sexually assaulting her two kids.
Unfortunately for Cunningham, the “mom” was being played by an undercover officer.
Following his arrest, police say they executed a search warrant at his home and seized documents and several computers.
Cunningham appeared briefly in Newmarket court Thursday morning on charges of arranging to commit sexual assault, arranging to commit sexual exploitation, possession and access of child exploitation and two charges of making sexually explicit material available to a young person under 16. He was remanded in custody until May 7.
What does a person on the sex offender registry look like?
There are no tell tale signs, of course. Cunningham looks like an ordinary, clean-cut kind of guy, the kind who allegedly posts cute photos of babies and talks about cuddling up to lonely moms who want to watch chick flicks.
Police are worried there are victims and witnesses who haven’t come forward and are appealing for information from anyone who had contact with Cunningham.
They would have been drawn in by personal ads that appear innocuous at first glance, police say. Just last month, they allege Cunningham posted this one on Craigslist: “Any single mom for LTR (long term relationship) Dating,” it began innocently enough.
And if that didn’t reel them in, there was a photo of a baby’s sweet little feet attached to the ad. The poster went on to describe himself as a 33-year-old in “decent shape” who is “generally open minded and none (sic) judgmental”, who likes cuddling up to chick flicks and going camping. “I wouldn’t mind having a kid of my own as well some day maybe more,” it continued.
But the creepy kicker came at the end when the poster recommended that women responding to his ad should please “put the age of your kid/kids” in the subject line.
YRP say their Internet Child Exploitation unit began investigating a man last year who was posting online ads seeking intimate relationships with people in York Region, especially single parents with babies or toddlers in the Newmarket area. Police allege the poster was particularly interested in developing a relationship with a single parent so he could gain sexual access to their kids.
The sick allegations are reminiscent of what has landed Cunningham in trouble before.
In 2004, he was sentenced to just four months in jail for sexually assaulting the young daughter of a single mom he had met.
In 2005, Cunningham was convicted of luring when a police officer posed as a child over the Internet. This time, he spent 11 months in pre-trial custody and was sentenced to a further 18 months in jail. He also received three years probation and was placed on the sex offender registry.
But rather than learning from this second brush with the law, police allege Cunningham was once again online, hunting for children. In addition to the more benign classified ads, they say there were more brazen ones as well featuring sexually explicit material that sought sex with males and females of all ages.
Right now, these are all allegations that have not been proven in court. The presumption of innocence remains his. But if Cunningham is indeed convicted once again on these child sex charges, the question is stark yet simple.
How many more chances does a sex offender deserve?