Teen prostitution suspect appears in court
Youth outreach worker wonders what she could have done better to help accused
A 15-year-old girl has appeared in an Ottawa courtroom on charges of human trafficking and pimping.
The girl, who can't be named due to provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act, is one of three girls accused of forcibly confining three other teenage girls, then offering them up as prostitutes.
The girl appeared in person Wednesday morning wearing a bright blue hooded sweatshirt and jogging pants with her hair in a ponytail.
Her parents were also in the courtroom.
The girl is facing 18 charges in connection with three alleged incidents: the first from May 16 to 19, the second on May 30, and the third on June 3.
The girl was remanded into custody until Monday, when a bail hearing is scheduled to take place.
Youth worker 'shocked, saddened'
Outreach worker Marta Michel talks to youth in the southeast Ottawa community where the accused live. She said she can't help but second-guess herself after the charges were made public.
"As a youth worker in this community, I want to do the best job I can do," Michel said, "It affected me. Like what didn't you do, what steps didn't you take, what did you miss?"
Another 15-year-old girl charged in the case appeared in court on Tuesday, while the third, a 17-year-old, is still being sought by police.
Police said the victims were lured to a residence in the 2400 block of Walkley Road via social media, forcibly confined — with at least one instance where a victim was drugged — then taken elsewhere where they were offered to adult men for acts of prostitution.
Police would not say how many adult men were involved in the three incidents and said it was early in the investigation to say whether any would face charges.
They added there is no evidence of any gang involvement or any involvement of the parents, and say the trio of accused appear to have acted alone.