The owner of an Ontario centre that offers services for children with autism, and a convicted sex offender who Ontario Provincial Police said was living at the facility, are both facing human trafficking charges.
The news comes days after police issued a rare warning that a sex offender was living at the centre called Beating the Odds in Essa Township, near Barrie.
In a news release issued Wednesday night, OPP said the owner of the facility, 36-year-old Amber-Lee Maloney, has been charged with trafficking in a person, receiving material benefit from trafficking a person, administering a noxious substance, fraud over $5,000, and uttering a forged document.
Lauriston Charles Maloney, 42, has been charged with two counts of assault, trafficking in a person, receiving material benefit from trafficking a person, and forcible confinement.
Lauriston Maloney and Amber-Lee Maloney are married, police have confirmed to Global News.
The charges against them have not been proven in court.
Police did note that the victim in this new case where charges have been laid was not from the children’s centre.
“The victim in the case was not an attendee of the Beating the Odds day camp. The victim is in a place of safety and being provided support,” police said.
At the facility on Thursday, a notice from the Ontario government dated July 18 was seen on the door which advised parents that a protection order had been served against Amber Maloney, ordering her to immediately stop providing child care. It noted that the order is subject to an appeal process.
The arrests come after the OPP issued a community safety advisory on Monday, warning of a sex offender living at Beating the Odds, which operates at a residence.
Lauriston Maloney “resides at, and has regular access to” the Beating the Odds centre, which offers services for children with autism, police said at the time.
“(Lauriston) Maloney is a convicted sex offender with several prior convictions, which include human trafficking of children,” the advisory read.
OPP Sgt. Jason Folz told Global News that Lauriston faced charges in Peel Region and was convicted in 2004 and 2013.
“It’s a total of 16 criminal charges related to human trafficking and trafficking of minor-age children, which has put him on the sex offender registry,” Folz said.
Lauriston Maloney was not under any conditions relating to associating with young children, Folz said, which “upped the ante” in releasing the advisory.
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Folz noted that the convictions were not in relation to the Beating the Odds facility.
The advisory prompted the Ontario solicitor general’s office to warn parents to avoid the facility.
“This individual who was convicted of such reprehensible crimes should never be around vulnerable children again,” the statement sent to Global News by the solicitor general’s office said.
“Allowing him to roam freely around our communities and potentially put more children in danger is a failing of our justice system.”
The provincial government said it had worked with police to serve an order at the centre which forbade the man from being on-site when children were present.
The centre’s owner, Amber Maloney, told CTV News Lauriston Maloney had no access to children attending the camp, though the network later reported that a parent whose child attended the camp said that wasn’t the case.
Lauriston Maloney also tried to explain his previous convictions in an interview with CTV, saying the one in 2004 stemmed from when he ran an escort agency, claiming there were no human trafficking or child trafficking convictions.
He said one of the girls involved was a minor, but that was a case of him being provided false identification, which was presented in evidence.
Lauriston Maloney said he had moved on with his life.
CTV reported they had not viewed court documents regarding the convictions. Neither has Global News.
Global News made attempts to receive comments from the Beating the Odds centre both after the OPP released its initial warning and after the provincial government’s comments.
Multiple attempts were unsuccessful.
On Monday, during email discussions attempting to set up an interview, the owner of the facility, Amber-Lee Maloney, said: “there is many things on this article that is untrue and false.”
Meanwhile, the couple were both remanded in custody and were scheduled to appear in court Friday morning. Further information from police about the arrests was not immediately released.
— With files from Global News’ Isaac Callan