Canada

Tori Stafford accused had girlfriend work as escort

WARNING: This story contains disturbing details. Michael Rafferty, the man accused of killing and sexually assaulting Victoria (Tori) Stafford, received almost $17,000 from a woman who worked as a prostitute and thought she was in an exclusive relationship with him.

WARNING: This story contains disturbing details

Victoria (Tori) Stafford disappeared outside her school in Woodstock, Ont., on April 8, 2009. Her remains were found more than three months later. (Canadian Press)

Michael Rafferty, the man accused of killing and sexually assaulting Victoria (Tori) Stafford, received almost $17,000 from a woman who worked as a prostitute and thought she was in an exclusive relationship with him, a London, Ont, court was told Friday.

Charity Spitzig testified that she dated Rafferty, 31, between April 2008 until May 2009, when he was arrested in connection with Tori's death.

The 26-year-old said during their relationship she and Rafferty discussed how to improve their finances and they decided she would get into the escort business and would give him all of those earnings.

Court saw banking records that showed that between December 2008 and May 2009 Spitzig gave Rafferty $16,835.

Charity Spitzig told jurors Michael Rafferty asked her to work as an escort and she gave him $16,835 over the course of six months. (Marc Cormier/CBC)

Rafferty has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, sexual assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping.

Tori disappeared outside her elementary school in Woodstock, Ont., on April 8, 2009. Her remains were found in a rural area 100 kilometres north of the city more than three months later.

Spitzig testified that she gave Rafferty money on the day the Grade 3 student vanished, including $400 for a car payment and $100 for gas.

She said the two communicated frequently through BlackBerry messenger. On April 8, 2009, however, she said there were periods when Rafferty did not respond to her queries.

Character not a prime consideration

Spitzig explained how Rafferty talked about Tori in the wake of her disappearance and expressed an interest in helping to find the girl.

Michael Rafferty, 31, has pleaded not guilty to all charges in connection with Tori's death. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)

Court also heard from a number of other women who were dating Rafferty during the spring of 2009, the Crown having called more than a dozen over the last several days of testimony.

Along with Spitzig, Rafferty contacted at least four others using his BlackBerry on April 8, 2009, all of whom testified Friday.

He sent more than a dozen texts and made numerous calls over the course of the day. However, David Broad, senior manager for information security and digital forensics at Bell Canada, testified Thursday that there was a nearly three-hour gap in phone activity after 5 p.m., around the time the Crown alleges Tori died.

The Crown contends Tori was lured to Rafferty's car by Terri-Lynne McClintic, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder two years ago, around 3:30 p.m. on April 8, 2009. The pair drove to Guelph and then to Mount Forest, where the eight-year-old was allegedly raped and killed.

McClintic, who is currently serving a life sentence, testified last month that she killed Tori after kicking and hitting her in the head with a hammer. However, she has previously said that Rafferty was the one who delivered the fatal blows.

Justice Thomas Heeney warned jurors that Rafferty's character should not be a prime consideration in the current case. The trial is not about how many women he dated, Heeney said, but what the women have said that is relevant.

Rafferty's trial began on March 5.

With files from CBC's Steven D'Souza and The Canadian Press

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