Sandy Thorburn arrest a cautionary tale for budding models online
Published Tuesday, July 16, 2013 6:51PM EDT
Hugh Alexander ‘Sandy’ Thorburn allegedly told them he was from a modelling company. Police say through his online aliases he contacted girls for modelling photo shoots.
Police also say he met the girls to make child pornography.
Now, Sandy Thorburn has been charged with several counts of luring and making child pornography. The allegations are a cautionary tale for parents and kids.
And it's also a stunning surprise for a local theatre company.
Theatre Collingwood is rejigging its production of Billy Bishop Goes to War, removing Thorburn from any association to the production on its website. He was starring in the show.
Now, the concern is whether there are more victims still out there and if teens will take extra precautions after seeing what can happen when meeting people on the internet.
Taylor Scott wants to be an actress and looks for auditions on websites like Kijiji. Then she found out a man had been arrested for luring models on line.
“I was shocked,” she says.
The casting call she responded to doesn't appear to be linked to Thorburn, the man accused of luring young women to hotel rooms. But as a young woman, Taylor says she understands how girls could fall victim to such a ploy
“You can get swept up, ‘Oh I’m going to be famous, I'm getting a photographer,’” she says. “So you have to bring yourself down and make sure you're safe before you go forward.”
A highly respected member of the arts community, Thorburn now faces a slew of luring and child pornography charges after police arrested the 49-year-old on Friday at the Monte Carlo Inn in Barrie. At the time of his arrest he was with a 17 year old girl – someone police say he met online using one of his many aliases.
While most of the profiles associated to Thorburn by police have been deactivated on the website Model Mayhem, one comment from one of his aliases, Theron Spyra, shows him contacting a 17 year old girl in England.
His other aliases allegedly include Ryan Wardle, Andre Stein and Lydia Lensky, a profile still active at Model Mayhem.
While Thorburn had ties to several communities across southern Ontario, police say he met all of his alleged victims online. And given the number of aliases he's said to have used, police say there could be more victims.
“These were naive young girls manipulated by a predator,” says Insp. Scott Naylor. “I can't say that these girls were looking to jumpstart a career in modelling. They were 14 to 17 years old without parental consent.”
Police say Thorburn was leading a double life: posing as a photographer and model scout online, while also teaching and acting.
Erica Angus is the executive director of Theatre Collingwood. Like many people, Angus is shocked.
“You can never expect something like this,” she says. “And it's a police matter. We really know nothing other than what we've heard on the news.”
In addition to his theatre work, Thorburn taught at several schools including Lakehead University in Orillia, and the University of Waterloo.