Teen ringleader guilty in prostitution ring

Teen ringleader guilty in prostitution ring

OTTAWA- A teenaged girl was found guilty Wednesday of forcing her peers, including one as young as 13, into prostitution through intimidation and blackmail in Canada's capital city.

She now faces up to 14 years in prison, as the Crown seeks an adult sentence for 30 charges including child luring, child pornography, assault and forcible confinement.

Two of her accomplices have already pleaded guilty in the case, after police accused them of plying girls with drugs and alcohol, then beating them into submission before sending them out to have sex with johns.

The youngest of the group was sentenced last week to three years in prison, the maximum for youths.

Judge Diane Lahaie rejected a sentencing recommendation of one year for the other, saying it was too lenient.

The trio were 15-16 years old when they were arrested in June 2012.

The court heard during the trial that most of the victims were befriended on Facebook, with phrases such as: "You sound like a chill girl. How old are you? We should chill together."

They were invited to "hang out" with the accused, the prosecutor said, encouraged or forced to take drugs, and told they would become escorts. If they refused, they were threatened with violence and blackmail.

One victim was forced kicking and screaming into a john's car at a gas station. She escaped but was quickly caught and dragged back. Another's clothes were ripped off in the basement of a house and she was photographed in the nude.

The youngest victim's mother dropped off her daughter at the home of one of the accused for a sleepover. The girl returned home distraught the next day, wearing makeup, heels and a trench-coat that didn't belong to her.

The Crown said one of the accused would send photographs of a new recruit to prospective johns from her cellphone, and if they agreed, she would send the girl by taxi to the man's home to sell sex.

Police eventually broke up the prostitution ring after one of the victims complained to her mother, who informed authorities.

The names of the girls and their alleged victims cannot be released under Canadian law.

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