Thursday, July 12, 2001

Camille Bains
Canadian Press

Defence pokes holes in U.S. girl's claim she was forced to hook in Vancouver

VANCOUVER (CP) — Lawyers defending three Americans charged with forcing an 11-year-old girl into prostitution in Vancouver poked holes Wednesday in the child's videotaped statement and police handling of the case. Defence lawyer Ian Donaldson also questioned whether the girl was actually 11.

Vancouver police failed to obtain any documents from U.S. authorities when they ran a check on her and only learned through one of their radio dispatchers that she was a runaway.

In her videotaped statement, the Portland, Ore., girl appeared much older. She spoke in a deep, relaxed voice, was well versed in the lingo of the prostitution world and said she'd previously worked the streets in Oregon.

She also stated she had told the trio before they left Oregon that she was 16.

Once in Vancouver, she said she was plied with drugs, beaten for not earning enough money and made to work 12 hours a day on the city's kiddie hooker stroll, which she referred to as the "high track."

The girl said she crossed the border into Canada on Feb. 22 with two men she called "my pimps," a woman and the woman's two-year-old son.

Jabari McCrory, David Martin Walker and Mistenda Mae Carter, all in their 20s and all from Portland, are on trial in provincial court charged with abduction of a minor under the age of 14, living off the avails of prostitution, sexual interference and assault.

The girl said she had been made to buy "sexy and revealing" clothes and that she'd been beaten by two "bad dates."

Judge William Kitchen is hearing the case without a jury and has not decided whether the videotaped statement will be admissible.

The girl has chosen not to testify in person or via video link from Oregon, where she is a ward of the state.

Donaldson maintains the girl's testimony in a courtroom is relevant because otherwise her statement can be deemed hearsay.

He complained earlier that the Crown had not obtained background material about her from Oregon authorities to prove her credibility that she'd worked there as a prostitute.

Christopher Schatz, a U.S. federal public defender, told Crown prosecutor Henry Reiner via phone from Portland that the state's Services for Children and Families agency would have records to corroborate any such activities but they may not be released.

Schatz said the ultimate decision lies with a district court judge there and that could be a long and protracted process.

"We can't get that (material) here so how can we get it in a foreign country," Reiner said outside court.

"She admitted she was a prostitute so what relevance would records in Oregon saying she was a prostitute… do?"

Reiner said the case rests on whether the videotaped statement is necessary and reliable but that if the judge decides it's inadmissible, the case would be dismissed.

But he said the case still has an excellent chance of proceeding because several precedents involving children and those involved in domestic abuse have been successful in the Supreme Court of Canada without the individuals having to testify.

Earlier, while cross-examining Crown witnesses, Donaldson said records indicated the car the group used to drive to Vancouver crossed the border into Canada on Feb. 23, about 31 hours before the girl was picked up by police.

Reiner said his later check with border authorities indicated the car had been in Canada for 36 hours, so the girl would be off by only a day in what she told police.

Donaldson also questioned Det. Raymond Payette, seen interviewing the girl in the videotape, about why police did not corroborate numerous aspects of her story.

For example, the girl said the group had stayed in four hotels but police had a receipt for only one.

The girl also said that she was given a pager so the two men could keep tabs on her. But police did not find out that the pager was not capable of operating in Canada.

She also said one of the men called her from a cellular phone although police didn't find one when police apprehended the three adults.

Police also failed to make notes about unrecorded conversations with the girl or learn from American authorities the three adults had been indicted in the United States on a charge of transporting a minor, Donaldson said.

"There is a distinct absence of any evidence in this case that tends to corroborate or back up most of what the complainant says," Donaldson said outside court.

"It's just missing, it isn't there."

Donaldson also cast doubt on the girl's age.

"Physically, she is off the scale for people who are said to be her age, way off the scale," he said.

"Nobody's seen any confirmation of her age. We have what she says and that's it and we're not anxious to rely on what she says."

Defence lawyer Russell MacKay also questioned Payette about whether police noticed any bruises on the girl to corroborate her accounts of being beaten by clients and thrown out of a car.

Payette confirmed no injuries were found consistent with being thrown out of a vehicle.

MacKay also asked Payette whether police checked a list of bad dates kept by the Downtown Eastside Youth Activities Centre so they could compare descriptions on it with those given by the girl.

"No, I didn't," said Payette.

The detective also said he was aware LSD creates hallucinogenic effects that can last for up to 12 hours. The girl claimed she'd been given the drug, along with others, to help keep her going.

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