Friday, August 08, 2008

Quebec Couple Arrested on Charges of Organizing Teen Prostitution

From the Montreal Gazette:

OTTAWA - A Quebec couple accused of luring three girls off Ottawa streets and forcing them into prostitution could soon face charges of human trafficking, a Criminal Code offence which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Laura Emerson, 28, and her boyfriend, Gordon John Kingsbury, 33, both of Gatineau, Que., appeared in court briefly Thursday for a scheduled bail hearing but the two were remanded until Tuesday because their lawyers said they needed more time to examine new evidence against the pair.

Emerson was charged with 13 offences, including kidnapping, forcible confinement and procuring and living off the avails of prostitution after the police gangs section discovered that three teenage girls had been held captive for up to a year in a condominium building in Gatineau, just across the Ottawa River from the nation's capital.

Kingsbury is charged with sexual assault and being unlawfully at large. Investigators said Wednesday that one 17-year-old girl they believed was an accomplice turned out to be a victim who had been held prisoner for a year. Two other 17-year-old girls are alleged to have been held for five to six months while they engaged in prostitution.Gatineau's Assistant Crown attorney Diane Legault said Thursday the two accused likely will face new charges, including human trafficking.

In November 2005, the Criminal Code was amended to make the "recruitment, transporting, transferring, receipt, holding, concealment or harbouring of a person, or the exercise of control, direction or influence over the movements of a person for the purpose of exploiting them or facilitating their exploitation" an indictable offence. Conviction carries a maximum possible sentence of life imprisonment where it involves kidnapping, aggravated assault or aggravated sexual assault, or a maximum penalty of 14 years in all other cases.

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