“The things I have seen and done disgust me,” says a young woman who was forced into prostitution at the age of 16.
The woman, now 19, submitted a victim impact statement Tuesday at Renee Allison Webber’s sentencing hearing in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax on pimping-related charges, inlcuding trafficking a person under the age of 18.
“You disgust me,” the victim said in her impact statement. “You took advantage of the fact I had no idea what I was getting into. You ruined me. You ruined my life.
“It makes me sick when I think of what you did to me. I wanted to die. You (dragged) me to a dark place I didn’t know existed. Who hurt you so badly that you needed to hurt me?”
She said she used to blame herself and wondered what she could have done differently but now knows “this wasn’t my fault.”
“What could a 16-year-old do to protect herself from complete manipulation?” she wrote. “Who could do anything to help me? What kind of monsters get away with ruining another person’s life?
“I have so many questions, but I realize I don’t want the answers.”
She said the experience left her numb to emotion and to pain.
“I tried to forget about it by doing so many drugs that I’ve overdosed,” she said. “I tried to end my life because I couldn’t even sleep without waking up screaming and crying.
“If it wasn’t for my mother, I wouldn’t be alive right now.”
It is the same impact statement the young woman penned for co-accused Kyle Leslie Pellow’s sentencing last spring.
Crown attorney Cory Roberts told the court the victim was asked if she’d like to prepare a new statement but said it would be too painful.
She showed up in court Tuesday afternoon but didn’t wish to read out her statement, which was tendered with the court.
A jury found Webber, 43, guilty in September on five charges: trafficking a person under the age of 18, receiving material benefits from that trafficking, advertising sexual services, procuring a person under 18 to provide sexual services for consideration, and sexual exploitation.
The offences were committed over a period of four to six weeks in late 2015.
Webber had earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of assault, for slapping the girl in the face shortly before she went to police in May 2016.
The Crown and defence agreed that Webber should not be sentenced on the procuring charge because it involves substantially the same facts as the human trafficking charge.
Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of six to 6.5 years in prison for Webber, saying she trafficked the girl into the sex trade in concert with Pellow and exploited the girl into taking part in a sexual threesome with them.
Defence lawyer Don Murray has recommended three years in prison.
The human trafficking charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years behind bars, while the charge of receiving material benefits has a two-year minimum.
The defence has challenged the constitutionality of the mandatory minimums, saying they would be cruel and unusual punishment for Webber.
Justice Christa Brothers will give her sentencing decision Jan. 17. Webber remains free on conditions.
Webber and Pellow were arrested in May 2016 at a residence on Main Avenue in Halifax after police learned they were directing and influencing the girl for the purpose of prostitution.
Pellow, 29, pleaded guilty in provincial court last spring to trafficking a person under 18, advertising sexual services and breaching a court order. He received a six-year prison sentence, but the judge deducted just over three years as remand credit.
Webber told the court Tuesday she should never have let the girl live with her and should not have associated with Pellow. She denied committing the offences.
The complainant’s mother also submitted a victim impact statement. She read the statement out loud, saying it tortures her heart to know what her daughter went through after she was forced into the sex trade.
“I can only imagine what the details are that I do not know of – the deception and manipulation used to lure her,” the mother said. “It sickens me. The damage done extends far beyond the surface.
“We must now do the work to heal from each of the offences which violated my daughter and hurt our family. It will be a long path to healing for myself, and especially my daughter, but I intend to support her through it all.”
She said the justice system needs to know that not all therapy and post-care is covered for victims of violence against women.
“It’s a fact,” she said. “This is ongoing, but I will continue to provide for whatever is needed for her in the future. I was hit with so many roadblocks regarding the lack of services which exist, and those that do are overburdened.”
The woman said she had to isolate and relocate her daughter to keep her safe.
“As much as we can, we are trying to get back to living a normal life,” she said. “We have a new kind of normalcy now. We can’t go to certain places like we used to. Certain things and places are triggers.”
She said she recently crossed paths with one of the men who sexually abused her daughter.
“I wanted to enjoy a night out with friends,” she said. “It was very awkward to sit there in a room full of people, knowing he paid for my child. And I was only feet away from him. As any parent, many intrusive thoughts entered my mind. Do you have any idea of what that is like?”
She said she wants the court to know one thing: “My child is brave. She came forward. Many girls never come forward (from) this type of violence, and they bravely suffer in silence. My daughter is fine, but so many are not.
“She is no longer a victim. My daughter is a survivor. She is strong and she will move on with her life and do good things. This I know for sure.”
Outside court, the woman said her daughter is in school and has a part-time job, just like any other 19-year-old.
Content Original Link: