Vancouver Sun

Vic­tim tells pimp’s sen­tenc­ing hear­ing her time with him was ‘ex­pe­ri­ence from hell’

- KEITH FRASER kfraser@post­media.com Crime · Society · Human Rights · Discrimination · Sexual Abuse · Incidents · Prostitution · Violence and Abuse · Vancouver · Steve Bannon · Facebook · Surrey · British Columbia · Busta Rhymes · Vancouver Police Department

A young woman who was lured into pros­ti­tu­tion at the age of 17 by a Van­cou­ver pimp has de­scribed it as an “ex­pe­ri­ence from hell.”

In a vic­tim im­pact state­ment read into court Wed­nes­day, the young woman, who is now 20, said that she suf­fers from se­vere anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion, sleep­less­ness and panic at­tacks as a re­sult of be­ing ex­ploited by Michael William Ban­non.

The vic­tim, who can­not be iden­ti­fied due to a pub­li­ca­tion ban, met Ban­non, now 35, in March 2015 af­ter he con­tacted her un­so­licited on Face­book.

He picked her up near her home in Sur­rey and took her to a ho­tel in Van­cou­ver. Over the course of a week­end, she had be­tween 25 and 28 sex­ual en­coun­ters, with at least three males not wear­ing con­doms, one of them the ac­cused.

At one point, Ban­non pro­vided her with drugs af­ter she had ser­viced a client. Af­ter tak­ing the drugs, she lapsed into un­con­scious­ness for sev­eral hours.

On her way home in a taxi, she was in­ter­cepted by po­lice. She was wear­ing a thin dress and ap­peared tired and di­shev­elled.

“My emo­tions were so raw af­ter this event and the flash­backs were so in­tense, my fam­ily didn’t know how to re­spond to them,” S.L. said in a vic­tim im­pact state­ment read in court by Crown coun­sel Ge­ordie Proulx dur­ing Ban­non’s sen­tenc­ing hear­ing. “Phys­i­cally, this was an ex­pe­ri­ence from hell. I was so de­hy­drated in the hos­pi­tal, the IV had to go be­tween my toes. I had cold sores all over my mouth and face. I was sore all over.”

The girl’s mother also pro­vided a vic­tim im­pact state­ment read by Proulx at the hear­ing presided over by B.C. Supreme Court Jus­tice Gre­gory Bowden.

The mother said that when her daugh­ter went miss­ing on the week­end in ques­tion, she didn’t know that her child was in the pres­ence of “such a dan­ger­ous man.”

When her daugh­ter came home, she felt re­lief and then dread, as well as anger and help­less­ness.

“There was noth­ing I could do to make this bet­ter. I couldn’t heal her or pro­tect her from this mon­ster.”

Last week, Ban­non pleaded guilty to 22 charges re­lated to his re­cruit­ing of nine vic­tims be­tween the ages of 14 and 18 over the course of sev­eral months in 2014 and 2015. Most of the vic­tims were vul­ner­a­ble un­der­age girls.

Proulx said that Ban­non’s crimes were “ex­tremely lu­cra­tive” for him, dif­fi­cult for po­lice to in­ves­ti­gate, and a chal­lenge to pros­e­cute and en­cour­aged a strong mes­sage of de­nun­ci­a­tion and de­ter­rence.

“It must be made very clear by the court that this kind of con­duct will not be tol­er­ated.”

The Crown and de­fence sug­gested a 14-year sen­tence for Ban­non.

Doug Jevn­ing, a lawyer for Ban­non, told the judge that at the time of the of­fences his client was “deep in the throes” of a heroin ad­dic­tion but has since over­come his ad­dic­tion. He said Ban­non sin­cerely wants to change his life and ac­cepts re­spon­si­bil­ity for the crimes.

“He truly re­grets putting the girls on a bad path that hope­fully they will be able to get off.”

Louisa Rus­sell, a mem­ber of Van­cou­ver Rape Re­lief and Women’s Shel­ter, was in court for the sen­tenc­ing hear­ing and said while it was a re­lief that Ban­non was be­ing held ac­count­able, it was her un­der­stand­ing that so far none of the men who bought sex with the girls had been charged.

“It is un­ac­cept­able that the Van­cou­ver Po­lice Depart­ment will not en­force the law when it comes to crim­i­nal­iz­ing men who buy women and girls for sex­ual use and abuse.”

The depart­ment had no com­ment on Wed­nes­day, but last week stated that it in­ves­ti­gates all crim­i­nal com­plaints, in­clud­ing where it is al­leged that a sus­pect has ob­tained sex­ual ser­vices for con­sid­er­a­tion from those un­der the age of 18 years.

 ?? NICK PRO­CAYLO] ?? Rape Re­lief spokes­woman Louisa Rus­sell be­lieves none of the men who paid Michael Ban­non to have sex with girls have been charged.
NICK PRO­CAYLO] Rape Re­lief spokes­woman Louisa Rus­sell be­lieves none of the men who paid Michael Ban­non to have sex with girls have been charged.

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