B.C. Human Trafficking Charge and the Realities of Prostitution

Daphne Bramham

The Vancouver Sun

Reza Moazami is a 29-year-old human trafficker, child sex offender and pimp convicted this week on 30 charges involving girls aged 14 to 19.

Cody Legebokoff is a 24-year-old, baby-faced, serial killer sentenced this week to life in prison for the first-degree murders of three women and a 15-year-old girl who was legally blind. Judge Glen Perrett said Legebokoff’s intention wasn’t just to kill the women, he wanted to degrade and destroy them.

The link between these two B.C. men is that they both preyed on vulnerable girls and young women.

Moazami sold them by the hour after coercing them into prostitution, drugging them, beating them, raping them, moving them like pawns. He tried to sell them to other pimps.

Taken together the two cases provide a glimpse of the violent, drug-filled, exploitive world of prostitution.

As Judge Perrett noted, these aren’t just criminal matters. Society helped put Legebokoff’s four victims — three of whom were prostitutes — in harm’s way.

The judge referred to calls for an inquiry into Canada’s murdered and missing women since two of Legebokoff’s victims were First Nations.

But it goes deeper than that. The life stories of all the victims are strikingly consistent even though nine of the 11 who testified against Moazami are Canadian-born Caucasians. (The two others came as children from Afghanistan and Ukraine.)

Their common denominators are dysfunctional families and addictions.

These cases are timely as Parliament debates new prostitution laws.

Legalize prostitution and, proponents say, prostitutes will be better able to screen customers. Yet, no screening technique exists to identify monsters like Legebokoff. If it did, he would have been caught after the first murder.

Legalize, say proponents, and prostitutes will work inside and hire bodyguards to protect them.

But working inside didn’t keep the 11 witnesses in Moazami’s case safe.

Their lives were hell as Judge Catherine Bruce described in her 186-page decision that found Moazami guilty on 30 counts including five counts of sexual assault, three counts of sexual interference, three counts of sexual exploitation and one of human trafficking.

So, brace yourself. Some of the disturbing facts highlighted by Judge Bruce are going to be repeated.

E.B. was 12 when she first worked as a street prostitute to get money for food and clothes.

She was 14 when she met Moazami at a North Vancouver hotel room. E.B. had gone to rescue her friend M.N., who had called saying that she was with two men and in trouble.

Instead of a rescue, E.B. was ensnared by Moazami, coerced into working for him.

He often told E.B. he loved her and wanted to have children with her. But the cocaine and ecstasy he gave her kept her continuously high. He threatened to burn her with an iron.

For months she wasn’t allowed to leave the hotel on her own.

Later, she (like the other 10 who testified) was kept on an electronic leash, controlled by frequent phone calls and text messages that had to be answered immediately.

She worked “tired and sore,” without a break, day and night for three years. (Others testified that when they had their periods, Moazami supplied them with red condoms and red sheets.)

Moazami raped her twice after giving her GHB, the date-rape drug. The second time, he sodomized her.

E.B. saw none of the estimated $20,000 a month that she earned. Moazami charged her for the drugs, clothes and accommodation. He “fined” her for disobedience — $50,000 alone for trying to rescue M.N.

E.B. witnessed Moazami rip up other girls’ belongings, threaten their pet dog and punch another girl in the face. He pepper-sprayed them both before they managed to get away.

Here’s one of the few bits of his Facebook messages to her that are fit to print in a newspaper. “Die you nasty bitch u just wait I’lget you and then ull be begging for mercy how di the bear mace treat you hahahahaha !!!!”

After a working trip to Calgary, E.B. was admitted to the children’s ward at a psychiatric hospital.

She has moderate to severe learning disabilities. Her verbal skills are “childlike and simplistic,” the judge wrote. “While testifying, she curled her legs up and hugged them to her chest.”

J.C.H. was 13 and addicted to cocaine when she first exchanged sex for drugs. After time in a youth detention centre, she decided to become a prostitute at the age of 15. A friend from the centre introduced her to Moazami.

He taught her how to use a Taser on aggressive and non-paying clients. She practised using it on her pillow.

Moazami gave her cocaine and GHB almost every day as well as false identification so that she could get birth control injections.

He raped and sodomized her. He beat her badly enough that she was taken to hospital.

C.B. was 15 with a $500-a-day oxycodone addiction when she started working for Moazami. They’d first met when she was 14 and he was selling drugs to her and her mother.

Her addiction escalated to $1,000 a day in the two-and-a-half months she worked for him.

Their working relationship ended on Aug. 1, 2010 when Moazami was arrested.

Police found him hiding in a kitchen cupboard.