Adult sentences sought in teen prostitution-ring trial

The three teen girls accused of running a teen prostitution ring in Ottawa, allegedly using social media, should be sentenced as adults if they are found guilty, the Crown told court.

The trial of three Ottawa girls, who face a total of 74 charges, entered its second day Tuesday with more details about what police found on cellphones and inside the bedrooms of the accused.

Det. Carolyn Botting said police discovered the phone numbers of men, or "johns," who became clients of the alleged prostitution ring. She said officers discovered the men were found through online dating websites.

Botting continued her testimony Tuesday as the Crown announced its intention to seek adult sentences, though the three girls continue to be tried as juveniles.

The three girls pleaded not guilty on Monday to the 74 charges, including:

Human trafficking.

Procuring for prostitution.

Abduction.

Forcible confinement.

Robbery.

Sexual assault.

Assault.

Uttering threats.

Printing and publishing child pornography.

It took about 20 minutes to read the charges in court Monday.

Also on Monday, the Crown revealed the alleged involvement of a fourth teen girl who faces similar charges, but her trial will be held at a later date.

Few details were given about the latest accused, but the Crown said charges are connected to one victim.

Last June, police in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que., charged three teen girls with allegedly using social media to befriend and lure seven girls between 13 and 17 years of age to a home at a Walkley Road social housing complex in southeast Ottawa. That is where one of the accused lived, neighbours said.

Neither the four accused nor the seven victims can be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Two of the accused, who were 15 years old at the time of their arrests, were led into the prisoner's box on the first day of the trial with shackles around their ankles. Their co-accused, the eldest of the three, had been released on bail and she sat in the courtroom surrounded by friends.

In his opening statement Monday, Crown prosecutor Julian Lalonde said over three weekends last May and June, the alleged victims were enticed to a sleepover at the home of one of the accused.

Those invited were encouraged or forced to drink alcohol and take drugs, the Crown said, and if they resisted, they were beaten by one of the accused.

The Crown also said the accused might have started trying to recruit other girls as early as November 2011, six months before their arrests.

The three accused, each represented by a different lawyer, face a judge-only trial. Each of the accused is expected to testify.

A mother of one of the accused will also testify as a Crown witness. One of four accused "johns" is facing a charge of sexual assault related to the prostitution ring, and is expected to testify as well.

The Crown said its evidence includes Facebook messages and tweets that correspond to the incidents, along with nude or semi-nude photos seized from a cellphone allegedly used to market the victims.

Police officers have said they don't believe the accused girls had any guidance from an adult.

The trial is expected to last about four weeks.

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