Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Ian Bailey

Girl, 12, told police of past work in sex trade

Forced prostitution trial: Crown's only evidence is video interview

VANCOUVER — A 12-year-old girl who claims three adults forced her to work as a prostitute in Vancouver says she had previously worked in the sex trade.

The Portland, Ore., girl made the point in a videotaped interview with police that was played yesterday as the trial of three Americans began in provincial court here.

The two men and woman are accused of being involved in a scheme to transport the girl, 11 at the time, across the Canada-U.S. border and put her to work on the streets of Vancouver over five days last February.

The girl, who cannot be identified due to a court-imposed order, claims she was fed caffeine pills and the drug ecstasy to keep working toward the goal of making $4,000 during her visit to Vancouver.

In a matter-of-fact tone, the girl says she had "been prostituting" before the ordeal, which began when one of the three accused met her at a Portland mall and convinced her to join him for the trip to Canada for the "easy money" available in prostitution. At the time, she was in foster care.

She provides no other details of her past sex-trade experience in the videotaped interview. The TV showing the interview was arranged in the provincial courtroom so spectators could not get a clear view of its image.

They could only hear the calm, subdued voice of the girl, who also told police interviewers that she lied to her captors about her age, telling them she was 16.

"They didn't really believe me," she said.

Jabari McCrory, 26, his 24-year-old wife, Milenda Mae Carter, and cousin, David Martin Walker, 25, all face various charges, including assault and living on the avails of prostitution of a person under 18. Mr. McCrory is also accused of sexually assaulting the child.

Yesterday, the three sat grimfaced in court watching the videotape intently and occasionally shaking their heads at its contents.

On the tape, the girl talked calmly and cheerily about her fees for various sex acts, the sexual services she alleged she provided her pimp, Mr. McCrory, and the threats and physical abuse she said she suffered.

Throughout her work, she said, she was monitored by Mr. McCrory and Mr. Walker, who observed her actions from a nearby car. She said Ms. Carter worked as a prostitute alongside her.

William Kitchen, a provincial court judge, is hearing the case without a jury and is expected to rule soon on whether the tape will be admitted.

Henry Reiner, the Crown prosecutor, said his case is dead without the tape.

"That's all the evidence we have," Mr. Reiner said outside the court.

Mr. Reiner said social welfare officials in Oregon won't allow the girl to testify — even by a videolink — because they feel the experience would be detrimental to her mental health.

The child is is now living under state guardianship in a "secure environment" but Mr. Reiner said he could not provide any other details.

Because the girl is no longer in Canada, Mr. Reiner said he has no way to force her testimony — "not that I am inclined to do it anyway."

Mr. Reiner said he had no evidence to prove the girl had worked in the sex trade before her trip to Canada, suggesting she might have concocted the idea "just to build herself up."

At one point during Mr. Reiner's remarks outside the court, a reporter told him the girl does not come across as being 11.

"Maybe not, but she still is. She is just a child," said Mr. Reiner. "We do have requirements that children should not be exploited."

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Created: July 13, 2001
Last modified: July 13, 2001
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