Two 15-year-old girls have been arrested and Ottowa police are hunting for a 17-year-old girl accused of forcing other teens into prostitution.
Police said that they were laying charges of human trafficking, procuring, forcible confinement and sexual assault after a number of teen girls, between the ages of 13 and 17 were lured to a residence in late May and early June only to be abducted and delivered up to adult clients.
The most astounding aspect of the case is that the three chief suspects are all teen girls themselves.
The two 15-year-olds face almost a dozen charges. The third suspect is the wanted 17-year-old.
Staff Sgt. John McGetrick said police believe the trio were not acting on behalf of an adult organizer, but committed the alleged crimes on their own initiative.
“It’s shocking, quite frankly,” McGetrick said. “We asked the RCMP, who take the lead on human-trafficking, and they didn’t know of any similar case in Canada.”
The Ottawa Police Sexual Assault/Child Abuse Section investigated three incidents in late May and early June in which individual female victims were asked to meet at the Walkley Road residence “for social reasons” before being driven to other parts of Ottawa and forced into sex acts.
Investigators found connections between the three incidents, McGetrick said, and quickly identified the three suspects.
The two minors now in custody were arrested on June 8 and June 9 and face almost a dozen charges each, which also include abduction and robbery, assault and uttering threats.
One of the accused is further charged with administering a noxious substance.
They can’t be named because of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, but McGetrick said the department may apply to release more information in the future.
Regardless of their age, he said, they would be brought to justice.
“The actions that lead to the offence are the same whether you’re 12 or 60,” McGetrick said. “It’s still an offence, and they still need to be held accountable.”
Charges against the johns may follow, McGetrick said, but the investigation has not yet reached that point.
Natasha Albert has been living in the 2400 Block of Walkley Road for the past 19 years. Albert had initially assumed one of the accused minors was in trouble with the police because of a petty crime.
She was shocked to hear the arrest had to do with an alleged prostitution ring — one based out of her neighbourhood.
“This is insane,” said Albert. “I cannot believe that such young girls would be the ones responsible for something like this.”
She said she did not know the girls well, but had seen them in the neighbourhood before. She was extremely surprised by the idea that they might be capable of the alleged crimes.