Image copyright Toronto Police Image caption Police believe the alleged assaults may be linked
A man has been arrested on allegations of sexually assaulting a young child and another young girl at a church in Toronto.
The alleged offences are said to have taken place between 2013 and 2015 at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal church in the city’s north-east.
The suspect, identified as 51-year-old Roy Mays, was in custody awaiting a court appearance on Tuesday.
It is alleged he would grab the women before forcing them to perform oral sex, the Toronto Police Service said.
He is further alleged to have performed oral sex on the child.
The force says the alleged attacks “affected three young girls, aged seven, 10 and 12”, although it is not clear which one of the three was assaulted.
Detectives have described the case as “particularly alarming”, and described the alleged assaults as “violent and disgusting”.
“Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and the victims’ community as we endeavour to bring justice to them,” Detective Sergeant Lisa Johnson said.
Image copyright Toronto Police Image caption The alleged abuse at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal church allegedly occurred between 2013 and 2015
Mays worked as a volunteer in various roles with the church, police say.
The investigation began when the alleged victims reported the abuse to church officials on Monday.
During the first three months of this year, Church officials confronted the suspect and “detained” him in “an isolated area” where he was questioned for over three hours, police said.
They would not disclose what happened next, but added the victim “clearly expressed her frustration and anger” at the response.
Image copyright Toronto Police Image caption Mays was arrested on Monday afternoon and charged with 12 offences, including sexual assault and indecency
The church is a smaller, more exclusive service where mostly affluent Toronto residents attend.
It is in a section of the city known as Bayview, which neighbours the east end of the city.
In the 1990s, the church attracted controversy for allowing live electrical wire to be hung on its roof, which had lead to complaints by neighbours.