NORTHPORT, Fla. - A man who has been a key figure in the country's most prestigious dog organization is facing multiple child molestation charges, and now investigators are trying to determine if there are other possible victims.
John McCartney, 74, of Sarasota County, is charged with 10 felony counts alleging he sexually abused three young girls who live in his neighborhood.
The police report says that for about a year, McCartney repeatedly lured the girls to his home by offering them ice cream if they performed sex acts on him.
Relatives of the victims said they barely know McCartney, who had moved into the neighborhood only a few months before the alleged abuse began.
The prosecutor says troubling evidence turned up during a search warrant.
“The children’s pictures were found in the defendant's nightstand,” said Assistant State Attorney Amanda Gambert.
Local investigators say that since charges were filed, no new victims have been identified, but they say their investigation is continuing. One woman the I-Team spoke with said she expects the investigation to spread to other places.
Jeanette Benson is a dog handler from Pinellas County, who often saw McCartney when she competed in nationwide dog shows sponsored by the American Kennel Club, or AKC.
“AKC is the most prestigious dog show there is. The most prestigious shows they put on, and this man is like a God to them,” said Benson.
McCartney was affiliated with the AKC for more than 30 years, as a handler, a judge and a field representative, who oversaw hundreds of shows.
He retired from the organization in August 2012.
“He traveled all over the country. That's what AKC reps do,” said Benson.
Benson says she always felt uneasy around McCartney and is troubled by news of his arrest.
“This behavior is unacceptable and my heart goes out to the family and children,” she said.
The American Kennel Club said in a statement: “At no time during his previous employment did AKC receive complaints against John McCartney of the nature currently alleged. The charges against Mr. McCartney are serious crimes and AKC fully supports a thorough criminal investigation to see that justice prevails."
We've learned that law enforcement is now looking into whether there are other possible victims.
McCartney was released from jail last week, after posting at $475,000 bond.
He is forbidden to have contact with any children and must wear a monitoring device while he awaits trial.