Calgary

Victim of 5 days of rapes and beatings says experience 'scared me straight'

The young woman who, while pregnant, was beaten and forced to have sex with strangers in a Calgary apartment building for five days says the experience scared her out of the high-risk lifestyle she had been living.

Jessica Vinje is on trial for human trafficking, sex assault, assault, forcible confinement

Jessica Nyome Louise Vinje is on trial for charges stemming from an incident in December 2017. (Calgary Police Service)

The young woman who, while pregnant, was beaten and forced to have sex with strangers in a Calgary apartment building for five days says the experience scared her out of the high-risk lifestyle she had been living.

"This incident changed my life for the better and I've been sober for a long time now," said the victim, who was working as an escort when she was held against her will.

"It scared me straight out of that lifestyle."

The woman can only be identified as KM in order to protect her identity as she testifies at Jessica Vinje's trial.

Vinje faces charges of human trafficking, forcible confinement and sexual assault. 

Two others who were teens when KM was held in a walk-in closet in the downtown apartment have already pleaded guilty.

Now, KM is under cross-examination by defence lawyer Rebecca Snukal, who spent much of the day pointing out discrepancies between what the victim told police and what she said in court.

On Wednesday, under questioning from prosecutor Donna Spaner, the victim told her story of the brutal sexual violence she suffered when she turned up at a downtown apartment building after making arrangements to meet a client on Dec. 8, 2017.

KM said that when she showed up at the York apartment building on Fifth Avenue S.W., she was escorted upstairs where, once inside a unit on the third floor, she was beaten and ordered to strip while a gun was pointed at her.

She said she was kept in a room the size of a walk-in closet for five days while Vinje arranged for men to have sex with her. KM said she was only fed twice in five days.

'Extremely traumatic'

On Dec. 13, 2017, the victim said was able to escape, running across the street to a liquor store for help on when she noticed everyone was sleeping in the apartment.

Snukal spent Thursday pointing out inconsistencies between the statement KM gave to Det. Scott Mizibrocky in the hours after her escape and in the evidence she gave in court Wednesday.

For instance, KM initially told the detective that it was one of the teenage boys who used a gun to keep her in the apartment, but in her testimony, she said the boy and Vinje took turns holding the weapon.

"This was an extremely traumatic event for me," KM explained to the court. "At this point, I had just come out of the most traumatic event I have ever experienced."

Snukal also pointed out that KM testified she was allowed out of the room only to use the bathroom, once for a shower and when she said Vinje tried to sell her, but initially she had told police she had been allowed to sit in the living room to have a cigarette.

KM told Court of Queen's Bench Justice Scott Brooker that there were two different groups of men who paid to have sex with her: friends of Vinje and men who responded to online ads.

On Wednesday, KM said 10 men responded to the online ads posted by Vinje, but in her original statement to police, she said it was five or six.

KM has repeatedly explained that she was traumatized and under extreme stress at time of her police statement and since working with therapists, she has come to remember details more clearly.

"You can't have it both ways," said Snukal in response to the discrepancies in KM's account.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.