Three teenage girls accused of forcing other teens into prostitution returned to court Monday as their trial resumes after a summer break.
The trio, two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old, face 74 charges including human trafficking, forcible confinement and procuring for prostitution.
A fourth teen girl faces similar charges involving one incident, but her trial will be held at a later date.
Police allege the girls used social media to befriend and lure nine girls, aged 13 to 17, to a home at a housing complex in southeast Ottawa.
None of the accused or the nine victims can be named due to provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
‘I’ve been forced to do this’
The first testimony heard Monday came from 41-year-old Ottawa taxi driver Fazel Popal, who said he didn’t have sex with a 13-year-old girl because she told him she’d been forced into it.
Popal told the court one of the alleged ringleaders texted him in June 2012 to tell him: “I have a girl for you.”
He said he picked up the three accused and one of the victims, drove to a friend’s apartment and received oral sex from the victim.
A few days later, Popal said, he got another call from an accused and paid $50 to $70 for sex with another girl.
However, he said when she arrived, her face went white and she was shaking.
When he asked her what was wrong, he said she replied “I’m not that type of girl, I’ve been forced to do this.”
Popal said she offered to pay him $20 because she knew he’d paid for sex, so he offered to drive her to her parents’ house or a police station.
He said she didn’t want to, telling him she wanted to get her purse and cellphone back from one of the accused.
The court has yet to hear from this alleged victim, whom the Crown said was 13 years old at the time.
Teen says she refused offers
In the afternoon, a videotaped interview was shown in court with a girl who was 15 years old when she said she was repeatedly approached by one of the accused, who was a classmate.
The teen said she met two of the suspects at Ottawa’s Rideau Centre mall in February 2012 after multiple texts they sent telling her to “put her body to good use.”
She said in the video she picked the mall because she felt safe there.
Once there, the teen said she was told how much money she could make by selling sex to men, along with how they beat up girls who “disobeyed” them.
She said she was scared, told the accused she had to meet her dad and then left, not taking them up on the offer.
Clients were told teens were ‘pimps’
When the trial left off in early May, several clients testified about their dealings with the accused during arrangements to have sex with some alleged teen victims.
The men told the court the three accused had called themselves “pimps.”
Some of the alleged victims also detailed their experiences in court where claims included verbal, physical and sexual assault from the three accused.
There will be seven victims testifying in court out of the nine total.
The trial is expected to last until November with Judge Diane Lahaie presiding.
It is set to continue on Tuesday.