“The mother of a five-year-old girl says she is “shocked,” “horrified,” and “disgusted” after learning the babysitter she trusted is now charged, along with her boyfriend, with some 130 sex-related offences against young children.
The couple, Shayne Lund, 22 and his girlfriend, Avery Taylor, 20, of Orillia are charged with several counts each of counselling and conspiring to kidnap a child, making and selling child pornography, invitation to sexual touching, voyeurism, sexual assault and bestiality.
Lund faces 120 total charges while Taylor faces 16.
A third female, Katheryne Thompson, 19, of Orillia, a former girlfriend of Lund, has also been arrested in connection with similar offences and is awaiting a bail hearing. It is not yet known how many charges Thompson faces.
Police started their investigation after an alleged victim came forward. Since then, four more alleged child victims between the ages of two and 10 have been identified. Animals have also been identified as victims.
The charges are so “disturbing” that the Crown has announced it will be seeking to have the accused deemed dangerous offenders if they are found guilty, which could keep them behind bars indefinitely.
In an interview with the Toronto Sun outside court, the mother of the five-year-old, who can not be identified, said her daughter was allegedly blindfolded while being babysat and given a taste test that involved tasting ketchup chips and, unknown to the child, strawberry and banana-flavored condoms.
“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare,” said the mother. “It’s horrifying. It’s disgusting.”
She said she has learned other “sordid” details that she was not able to talk about.
She and her fiancé said they got a call from Orillia OPP three weeks ago and were asked to come and identify photos of their child. The mother looked at several photos of her little girl, showing close-ups of her genitals that were allegedly taken while she changed into her bathing suit to go to the beach with the babysitter. The mother said Taylor, who worked at a McDonald’s restaurant, told her she was taking a college child care worker course.
“She kept asking if she could borrow my daughter to work on an assignment,” said the mother. “I said OK, of course … I trusted her.”
The mother said police have instructed the parents not to speak with their child about the case.
“But that’s impossible – I can’t not discuss this with my child,” said the mother. “I need to know.”
She and her fiancé sat their child down and asked “gentle” questions about the blindfold game.
“She talked about tasting ketchup chips and she said one of the things sort of tasted like strawberry, but not really,” said the mother, clearly distressed. “Thank goodness there was a blindfold because she doesn’t seem to be traumatized. She doesn’t seem to understand what was happening.”
Since then, the mother and family have moved to Alberta but mom recalls the last time Taylor asked if she could take her child to the drive-in.
“I can’t remember why I had to say no, but I thank God we were busy that day and she couldn’t go,” she said.
She has known the accused woman since Taylor went to Twin Lakes high school in Orillia, the mom said.
“She seemed like a nice young girl,” she said. “There were no red flags.”
The mother said she didn’t know Lund well but knew Taylor was in an off-and-on relationship with him and that he still dated other women.
“She was never his sole girlfriend, but she wanted to be,” she said.
Now, looking back on all of the times she allowed her daughter to be babysat, the heartbroken mom says she is overwhelmed with anger and confusion.
“There are no words to describe how I feel,” she said. “I am super paranoid. This has changed my life.”
She said her fiancé is also enraged.
“He wanted to jump over that prisoner’s box at Lund,” she said. “He is hurt in a way that no father wants to be hurt. We will never trust anyone again.”
Lund, whose father is an OPP officer, sat in the prisoner’s box in handcuffs as his family sat in the front row of the court.
His bail hearing was delayed for four weeks while the investigation continues.
Taylor was denied bail last week. During her bail hearing, Taylor sat weeping in the prisoner’s box as her mother tried to bail her out.
Lawyer Angela McLeod, who represents Thompson, acknowledged the charges are so troubling the Crown has already indicated a dangerous offender designation.
“The allegations are disturbing and difficult to comprehend,” McLeod told the Toronto Sun outside the court. “We have been put on notice that if the accused are convicted of these allegations they will seek a dangerous offender status. That is extremely rare with someone without any criminal record.”
McLeod said she has not yet received full disclosure from police.
“I agree the allegations are troubling,” said Taylor’s lawyer, Mel Malick, also outside the court. “But my client’s involvement in this has yet to be proven in court.”
The investigation is ongoing. OPP are remaining tight-lipped about the investigation and have refused to speak about the case.