Toronto police say a 13-year-old girl was forced into prostitution after being lured on Facebook by a 17-year-old girl.
Three people have been charged with human trafficking offences, including the 17-year-old suspect.
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The victim was held captive for a month, Insp. Joanna Beaven-Desjardins told reporters on Friday. During that time, the people accused in the case forced the victim to have sex with clients in Niagara Falls, Toronto and Brampton.
Beaven-Desjardins said the victim and the teenage suspect had mutual Facebook friends. After talking to each other on social media, police allege that the 17-year-old lured the victim to a meet-up with another one of the accused, 22-year-old Kahmal Howard Paris.
Police said it was during that meeting at Paris's Toronto home that the victim was told she would be taken to Niagara Falls to perform sexual services for clients.
Violence threatened, police say
The victim said she did not want to do that, but police allege Paris told her she didn't have a choice and threatened violence if she didn't comply. Police say she was also introduced to the third accused, 19-year-old Alico Allen.
The three accused then allegedly took the victim to Niagara Falls, where they rented hotel rooms in order to service clients.
There, Beaven-Desjardins said, Paris and the female accused took pictures of the 13-year-old victim in various states of undress and posted them in escort ads on backpages.com offering sexual services.
During three days spent in Niagara Falls, Paris allegedly sexually assaulted the victim on three different occasions, said Beaven-Desjardins.
From there, the victim was taken back to Toronto by way of Guelph, Ont., and forced to service clients at various hotels in Toronto and Brampton, police say.
Managed to escape
On Nov. 9, police say that Paris became "enraged" with the victim, beat her and then left the residence they were in. While he was gone, investigators say the victim managed to escape the house and flag down a citizen, who called police.
All three accused were arrested at Paris's home that day and are now facing more than 20 charges. The charges against Paris include trafficking of a person under the age of 18, sexual assault on a person under 16, making child pornography, uttering threats and forcible confinement. The female accused, who cannot be identified as she's a minor, is facing eight charges. Allen is charged with trafficking of a person under 18 and procuring and exercising control over a person under 18.
Beaven-Desjardins says these types of cases are fuelled by the demand for underage sex. She had a message for clients on Friday: that police are coming after them, as well.
"It's obvious when you see this victim that she's 13 years of age," said Beaven-Desjardins. "I'm always surprised that a male wants to have sex with a child. It's very disturbing."
Police also warned that there may be more victims.