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Crown has two tests to prove to sentence teen pimp as an adult

The ringleader in Ottawa's teen pimp trial has been convicted of 27 charges, including three counts each of human trafficking, forcible confinement and procurement to prostitution.

This is the first time in Canada a young offender has been convicted of human trafficking.

The Crown will be seeking an adult sentence for the girl, who is now 17, but will have to prove two legal tests to succeed.

First, lawyers will have to prove that the youth sentence isn't enough to account for the lasting harm done to the victims in the case.

Criminal lawyer Gordon Campbell says the Crown must also show she doesn't deserve the court's assumption that she wasn't what the law calls morally culpable.

"Youths in Canada are presumed to be capable of being criminally responsible, generally from 12 years of age and up, but they're considered less responsible than adults," Campbell said.

He explained that the court assumes that while they can be expected to know that what they're doing is wrong it also assumes they did not know the extent of the impact they may have or the lasting damages they may cause.

The fact that the girl convicted in the teen pimp trial was only 15 when the offences were committed won't matter if the Crown can show this girl fully knew that what she was doing was wrong and knew the consequences of her actions.

There are no other cases like this so whatever happens will set the standard for future human trafficking convictions.

Recently, there were also changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act that Campbell said, "probably lowered the test the Crown has to meet from time to time for getting adult sentences."

"I can tell you they're relatively rare but it is certainly possible," said Campbell.

He added that much of the decision lies in the facts of the case and the strength of the Crown's arguments. They'll be expected to call evidence and possibly witnesses in their suit to have the girl sentenced as an adult.

Without previous cases to rely on to support their arguments the evidence will be paramount and Campbell said the legal community will be paying attention to the decision because it will set a new precedent for any future convictions of human trafficking for young offenders.

Justice Diane Lahaie ruled Wednesday the testimony of the main victims in the case was both reliable and clear. She found the defendant guilty of the majority of the charges against her.

The girl was acquitted on three charges where Lahaie said there was some doubt.

Lahaie outlined the facts of the case and addressed each charge on its own, finding the girl guilty of human trafficking, forcible confinement, assault, robbery, sexual assault, child luring, making and distributing child pornography and more.

She said the girl orchestrated a web of clients and lured the victims intending to exploit them. She held them against their will, forced them to take pornographic images she sent to dozens of older men and forced three of them to have sexual encounters with men and she kept the money.

The ringleader broke down on hearing her own lawyers suggested she be found guilty of uttering threats, the only emotion she's shown in the whole trial.

Lead Detective Kelly Lyle says she's pleased with the result.

"All the evidence came out great and the victims, as we keep stressing, they were the reason that we did so well," she said, adding she and her partner Carolyn Botting are proud of the girls' strength in coming forward and testifying.

It's expected that when a date for sentencing is finally set the victims will again come forward to read their impact statements outlining the harm done, both at the time and since, by the girl.

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