A couple in Gatineau, Que., faces new charges in relation to accusations that they abducted, confined and forced at least three teenage girls to prostitute themselves.
Laura Emerson, 28, was charged with human trafficking in a Gatineau court Tuesday. Gordon Kingsbury, 33, also faced new charges, including forcible confinement and procuring prostitution from minors.
Diane Legault, a lawyer for the Crown, said the human trafficking charge means recruiting people to exploit them.
The charge carries a penalty of up to 14 years or life in prison, depending on the circumstances.
In addition, a third victim was added to charges against the two.
Court documents confirmed that all three victims were under 18 at the time of the alleged crimes, but two have since turned 18.
Combined with the charges laid last week, Emerson now faces a total of 16 counts including forcible confinement, aggravated assault and procuring prostitution from minors. Kingsbury has been charged with a total of five counts including sexual assault.
The two will appear in court again Friday to set a date for a bail hearing.
Legault said the Crown intends to oppose bail for the two accused because of the serious nature of the charges.
Emerson's lawyer, Jean Bourget, said the situation has been stressful for his client, especially since she had to be moved from the Hull jail because of logistical reasons.
"But she's a tough little woman," he added.
Gatineau police allege the teen victims were abducted near a shelter for young women in Ottawa and taken to an apartment on Alexandre-Taché Boulevard in Gatineau, where one of them was held for one year and the two others for several months. They were allegedly drugged, sometimes tethered inside the apartment for several days, and forced into prostitution, police said.
According to the RCMP, human trafficking was added to the Criminal Code in 2005 and the first conviction for that offence took place recently in the Greater Toronto Area.
Gordon Kingsbury was not charged with human trafficking, as was previously reported.Aug 13, 2008 11:00 AM ET