Police investigate email threat to local sex trade worker
An online threat aimed at sex trade workers that was discovered by CBC Investigates has now led to an investigation by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.
The threatening email, which was posted anonymously on an adult personals website, appears to target a local sex worker.
What follows is a disturbing message for the worker and "any other women associated with you."
It states that the sex worker will have to start paying "protection and business fees" to a group, or drop out of the trade and delete all online ads.
"If you decide to contact the pigs you will be deciding to make a big mistake for yourself and your family," the email says.
"We have done our homework in this city and we know who is who we knowwho [sic] you are and where you live and who your [sic] associated with. Myself and my brothers will be looking forward to meeting you soon and to be working with us."
"Our stance on this is that we're not going to tolerate it. It's abuse, it's threats, it's violence, it's intimidation," he said.
"There's extortion, there's a touch of organized crime in it. And we will respond, we will investigate, and we will pursue those that are going to publish this type of article."
Changes in policing
On Tuesday, CBC Investigates revealed that the RNC and RCMP did not lay any charges related to prostitution in the province in 2013 — and there was only one charge filed in each of the three years prior.
Sheppard told CBC Investigates that the RNC has shifted its approach in policing prostitution to focus more on protecting sex workers, while targeting those behind the scenes.
He said this threatening email is a perfect example.
We just can't have people in this city living in fear and being abused.- RNC Insp. Jason Sheppard
"This is what we're interested in. This is the type of thing that as a police force we will not tolerate," he said.
"We're not going to put up with coercion, forcing youth into or forcing anybody against their will into a sex trade."
Sheppard is now asking anyone with information on this email or similar situations to contact police.
"If a person's a prostitute or a sex trade worker and they're involved, and they don't want to be involved, and they're being forced, then they can call me, they can call the RNC, they can call the intelligence unit. And we will send an investigator and we will speak with them. We'll give them respect," he said.
"We just can't have people in this city living in fear and being abused."