|The teen prostitution ringleader's defence lawyer Ken Hall says they're looking |
into their options, including an appeal, after she was sentenced to
six-and-a-half years in prison on Nov. 4, 2014.
Kailey Oliver-Machado was given credit for time she's already served in pre-sentence custody, meaning she will only serve another two years and 325 days.
Oliver-Machado was the only one who pleaded not guilty in her trial, but she was found guilty this January. The two other teens entered mid-trial guilty pleas in September 2013 for their roles in the violent pimping operation.
Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the 18-year-old faced a maximum sentence of three years. Under the adult Criminal Code, she faced a minimum sentence of five years.
"It's a very rare thing (sentencing a youth as an adult). It happens very infrequently; it's a big deal. And there's a ... complicated and extended procedure that has to be followed," said Doug Baum, a defence lawyer and a past president of the Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa, in an interview with CBC's Ottawa Morning earlier Tuesday.
The Youth Criminal Justice Act takes into account a youth's diminished moral blameworthiness, greater dependency and reduced maturity, Baum said.
But there are times when the actions of a youth rebut those characteristics, he added.
Victims emotional, happy
The CBC's Laurie Fagan says victims and their families were emotional in the courtroom after the judge's ruling early Tuesday morning.
Two Ottawa police officers who had worked on the case since June 2012 said after the ruling the victims and their families were happy with the verdict.
"I think it’s important to recognize it was the girls that came forward with their families who have suffered through this as well. This is a long road ahead for them," said Det. Carolyn Botting.
"That’s what’s important to remember in [cases of] human trafficking and slave labour."
"It was their strength that got us here today," said Sgt. Kelly Lyle.
Botting said men need to stop buying young girls for sex because this could have been avoided if that were the case.
Another girl in the case earlier received the maximum youth sentence of three years, while sentencing has been delayed as a psychological assessment has been ordered for the other.
"No words could ever convey how solemnly sorry I am. I am far from perfect but I'm definitely not the same girl I was at 15," she said in front of Justice Diane Lahaie.
"I realize the pain I inflicted on my victims and their families was extremely wrong and I will forever live with the guilt and regret of my vile actions ... I pray, Your Honour, take a youth sentence into consideration because unlike before I have aspirations for my future and I'm striving to become a better person."
Oliver-Machado — whose mother has worked as a prostitute and who lived in a home surrounded by drug use — is not a victim but a "product of her upbringing," her lawyer argued in court.
The girl didn't have a chance to grow up in anything resembling a normal way. Why didn't Social Workers pick up on her much earlier?
After the ruling, defence lawyer Ken Hall said Oliver-Machado was upset and they're weighing their options.
"We’re looking into all possibilities. We’re looking into an appeal," he said.
"Whether we do or not is up to my client."
The Crown argued Oliver-Machado, now 18, should be sentenced as an adult for her crimes.
The defence argued she should serve a three-year sentence in the youth system, but she should not receive credit for time already served since her arrest.
The trial, which began in April 2013, heard from three teenage girls who were forced to perform sex acts and hand over the money they earned. Four other teens testified about a range of experiences, including being recruited online to sell their bodies.
The youngest victim of the Ottawa teen prostitution ring has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and says she is too "scared to do anything" since she was forced into prostitution, an Ottawa court heard Tuesday.
The girl, who was 13 at the time, was in court Tuesday but Crown prosecutors read her statement at the sentencing hearing for a teen Crown prosecutors called the ringleader of a violent pimping operation.
Oliver-Machado was found guilty earlier this year on 27 charges, including procurement for the purpose of prostitution, human trafficking, making child pornography, sexual assault, child luring, uttering threats and unlawful confinement.
The victim told the court in a statement she is now living with her grandmother out of the province but misses her mother, brother and friends. But she said the experience has left her scarred and that in May she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress-disorder.
"I have nightmares about the incident," she said in her statement. "I am scared to live and scared to do anything."
Her mother, who was in court Tuesday, was crying as she told the court she had lost the ability to raise her daughter.
"I can't keep her safe," she told the court.
A project to study the scope of trafficking in the Ottawa area, by Elise Wohlbold, will result in a community safety audit. She has identified 140 women who said they are being forced to do sex-trade work in Ottawa, with 90 per cent of them born in Canada.
“It's far more prevalent than we thought,” said Wohlbold, whose project received $200,000 from the federal government.
|Researcher Elise Wohlbold|
“We knew human trafficking was happening, but the extent is surprising … they range from the age of 12 to 25.”
The industry is a lucrative one worldwide. The International Labour Organization estimates human trafficking is a $32 billion global crime industry.
Only the illegal drug industry generates more revenue, the organization believes.
Wohlbold estimates the human trafficking industry in Ottawa is worth $26 million, with prostitution fueling that dollar figure. Ottawa police said the average price for an escort is $200 an hour.
In the past six months, police have also investigated human trafficking in a more active way by creating a full-time unit consisting of four detectives and one sergeant that focus on rescuing girls under the age of 18.
Insp. Paul Johnston said police are finding more cases of women being trafficked, but the victims are usually too scared to share their story or file a complaint.
“Our experience is that this is not a complaint-driven process, so we're not waiting for them to come in. We need to go out there,” Johnston said.
|Inspector Paul Johnston, Ottawa Police Service|
As part of their investigation, officers go undercover as johns and book appointments with possible human trafficking victims. Once they make face-to-face contact with a girl, the undercover officer has to develop trust and convince a girl she can leave her trafficker.
It’s a process that could take months, police say.
“We speak in plain terms, make sure they understand we care, that we are here to genuinely care and get them out,” said Johnston. “That means they have to walk out without their clothing, their ID and we have to find them a place to stay.”
Even when a victim is rescued, there is no guarantee she will testify, police said.
|Sarah, now 28, is a former victim of human |
trafficking who did not report her trafficker
to police because she feared for her family
CBC News spoke with a former victim of human trafficking named Sarah who agreed to share her story, but on the condition we only use a pseudonym.
Sarah, now 28, said she spent four years working in the sex trade before running away. She said she was forced into prostitution by a Hells Angels gang member, and said she was too scared to report the man to police.
“I don't want to put my family at risk … the most important people to me are my loved ones and that's what I have to do to protect them,” she said, referring to her decision not to go to police.
Police and researchers have heard similar stories.