Calgary police have charged a woman with human trafficking after she allegedly extorted her female roommate into working in the sex trade.
Police began an investigation in January after receiving a request from a family member to check on the welfare of the 18-year-old alleged victim, who was believed to be in Calgary.
Shortly after, officers located the woman at a bus station. She told police she had been held against her will and forced to work in the sex trade since the fall.
It's believed the woman arrived in Calgary in October 2013 for a job and was looking for a female roommate.
She met a woman, Amanda Kathleen McGee, who offered her inexpensive rent, which she accepted.
After a short time living together, it's alleged the 31-year-old woman began slipping drugs into the alcoholic drinks the two were consuming together.
Police say the woman then allegedly took inappropriate photos of the 18-year-old without her knowledge and later used those photos to extort her into participating in sex acts for money. The teen alleges she was told the photos would be shared with family and friends if she didn't comply.
2nd alleged victim
Landlord Sharon Lawton said McGee told her she was the one being victimized.
"She came and got some of her personal items out of the suite, and she told us as she brought back the key that she had been victimized by this boyfriend. [I] know nothing about the boyfriend."
Lawton says the tenants were quiet and that there was not a lot of traffic in and out of the suite.
"[I'm] totally surprised. We had no inkling at all that anything was going on over there," she said.
'We are seeing a trend, and we have engaged in investigations where females have procured females as sex trade workers.' - Acting Staff Sgt. Mike Saunders
Acting Staff Sgt. Mike Saunders of the Calgary police said in most sex-trafficking situations, it's a man who forces women into prostitution but that police have been seeing a rise in female traffickers.
"We are seeing a trend, and we have engaged in investigations where females have procured females as sex trade workers," he said.
Police say the teenage victim is doing well with support from her friends and family, but Saunders said the case should serve as a warning.
"Be aware this can happen," he said.
"Bad things happen to good people. You just have to be really cognizant of that. Listen to your instincts and be careful in situations where you're seeking roommates and associates."
During the investigation, another female came forward alleging she had been the victim of voyeurism and extortion, by the same woman.
Saunders says the second woman said she had been photographed on a sex date with the teenager.
"The allegation is that McGee was covertly filming the two victims while they were engaged in a sex act," said Saunders.
McGee faces nine charges:
- Trafficking in persons.
- Administering a noxious substance to aggrieve or annoy.
- Living on the avails of prostitution.
- Keeper of a common bawdy house.
- Sexual assault with a weapon.
- Forcible confinement.
- Procure a person to become a prostitute.
McGee will appear in court on April 15.
On Tuesday, law enforcement members, Crown prosecutors, government officials and service providers will be meeting in Banff to discuss human trafficking.
The conference will feature global authorities on human trafficking and will explore such issues as prosecutions, investigations and victim assistance.