SELECTED CASE LAW
In 2018 ONSC 1022, Mr. M, a 27-year-old man, was acquitted of procuring persons under 18 for the purposes of prostitution, obtaining sexual services from a person under the age of 18 for consideration, human trafficking, benefiting from the trafficking, assault, uttering threats and child pornography offences. In this case, two 17-year-old girls, one of which was a ward of the state, had provided sexual services for money and their services were advertised online on a webpage called Backpage, including sexually suggestive images of them. The two complain-ants, Ms. M and Ms. L, and the accused, Mr. M, provided conflicting stories about their relationship and the manner in which Ms. M and Ms. L provided sexual services. The complainants accused Mr. M, among other things, of being involved with the two girls in providing sexual services for consideration, forcing one of them to perform sexual acts on him, taking their photos and posting the advertisements on Backpage, taking over $150,000 of their earnings over five and a half months, promising to buy them a condo, and controlling or assisting with their provision of sexual services. At one stage, Ms. M and Ms. L saw an Amber Alert about Ms. L on television and decided she should contact the police to tell them she was safe. After the police met with Ms. L, and spoke with Ms. M, Ms. M made a statement to the police about the two girls providing underage sexual services. Mr. M contradicted the girls’ statements and testimony, alleging that he had met Ms. M and Ms. L at a strip club and admitted to paying Ms. M for sexual services, who had told him that she was 20 years old. He was aware the two girls were providing sexual services for consideration and had been shown their Backpage advertisements and spent time with the two, including finding them somewhere to stay. He claimed they were planning on buying a condo together but that he had not controlled their provision of sexual services.
The judge held that the witnesses lacked credibility and their stories had too many inconsistencies and implausible details, including differing details on how they met, the lack of evidence that Mr. M had taken or posted the images of the girls on Backpage, and the discovery of $1,000 in Ms. M’s wallet and several shopping bags that suggested Mr. M had not controlled all of their finances. The judge could not determine beyond a reasonable doubt whether the offences had occurred, and Mr. M was acquitted of all charges.
Criminal Offence(s): Human Trafficking and Advertising Sexual Services