Brampton’s controversial superjail for teens is under fire again after police charged a youth services officer with possession of child pornography.

The Peel Regional Police child-exploitation unit seized a personal electronic device containing graphic images from the employee’s work area at the Roy McMurtry Youth Centre after receiving a call to investigate.

“We had enough with just what we took at the scene to lay charges,” Const. George Tudos told the Toronto Star. Police said the device seized at the workplace was an iPod. Police also seized the employee’s home computer.

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services, which oversees the youth jail, said it is cooperating with authorities. The facility holds youth ages 12 to 17.

Images found on the device were not related to youth inmates, police said.

Last November, the Toronto Star reported allegations that youth at the newly built, $93-million facility were deprived of food, programming and subjected to beatings and questionable body-cavity searches.

The latest charges are a “huge blow to the organization and its plans to turn things around,” said Irwin Elman, Ontario’s children and youth advocate.


Past allegations

Prompted by complaints from young detainees last year, Irwin Elman,
Ontario’s children and youth advocate, launched a review into the Roy
McMurtry Youth Centre, above, just months after it opened.

“They talked to me about a lockdown,” Elman told the Toronto Star at the
time. “They were telling me that there was a strip search because there
was a DVD missing. There had been a strip search and a full-cavity
search for the DVD.”

Others complained about violent hazing rituals performed within earshot
of staff. One Toronto teen arrived for his court hearing with blackened
eyes and bloodied clothing. He said he was brutally beaten by other
inmates throughout the 13 days he spent at the jail awaiting a bail
hearing. His lawyer said staff turned a blind eye.