A Toronto-based lawyer who works for a children's aid organization in Ontario is facing intense criticism for his statement that a 14-year old girl is a "sexually mature young woman," not a child. Gary McCallum initially claimed that 14- and 15-year old females should be regarded as "sexually mature" in a 2018 written statement during a civil suit in which a woman took Kenora-Rainy River Districts Child and Family Services to court.

READ ALSO: Toronto Man Who Kidnapped And Sexually Assaulted A 16-Year-Old Girl Is Wanted By Police

The woman had accused her foster father of sexually abusing her during her teenage years in the 1980s when she was under the supervision of a preceding childcare agency in northern Ontario, CTV News reports.

"A fourteen or fifteen (sic) girl is a sexually mature young woman, not a ‘child,’ as the term is conventionally understood," McCallum claimed.  Although the local Child and Family Services' executive director Bill Leonard refused to respond or comment on McCallum's remarks, he made an effort to clarify the organization's stance on the age of a child.

"My agency does, and always has, considered 14 and 15 year old young persons to be children," Leonard wrote in a statement.

Yesterday, upon hearing the news, child welfare experts responded to McCallum's statements on CTV'Your Morning. Torkin Manes lawyer Loretta Merritt, who represents sexual abuse victims and survivors, remarked that McCallum's claims were “appalling".

"It’s quite shocking to me. If the Children’s Aid Society didn’t know (the statement) was being made, that would be quite surprising. It would mean that the lawyer was acting without his client’s authority or instructions, which would be unusual.  If they did bless a statement like that being made, that’s even more concerning."

According to Merritt, McCallum's statement is "simply wrong" from a legal perspective.  She explained to Your Morning that anyone under the age of 18 is legally considered to be a child under Ontario’s Child and Family Services Act, the province's laws that supervise the Children’s Aid Societies. Based on criminal law, anyone under 16 is considered a child and is thus incapable of consenting to engage in any form of sexual activity.

READ ALSO: Ontario Man's "Sexsomnia" Defence Against Sexual Assault Charges Fails And He's Sentenced To One Year In Jail

Since this particular case is civil, there is “no hard line in the sand” for age, explained Merritt.  "They look at all of the factors in determining whether consent happened.  Even if this 14-year-old had engaged in previous sexual activity, I find it almost beyond belief to suggest that any court would ever think that a 14- or 15-year-old girl would consent to sexual activity with her 40-year-old foster father. It’s ridiculous."

McCallum's comments caused an uproar on social media.  An eruption of criticism has flooded Twitter, calling for his immediate dismissal from the profession.  Other members of the public have urged for authorities to launch a comprehensive investigation on McCallum's conduct, calling his remarks "perverted".

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