A Victoria man is behind bars facing accusations he prostituted a 16-year-old girl over the Internet.
Charges were laid against 22-year-old Stephen Charlie after West Shore RCMP say they collected evidence the girl was being “controlled and influenced” by the man.
Mr. Charlie faces six charges, including compelling a person to work as a prostitute, living off the avails of prostitution, kidnapping and assault.
“Young people can be enticed by that lure of money, drugs and attention,” spokeswoman Corporal Kathy Rochlitz said on Wednesday.
“Especially with our youth population that doesn't have the wiser aspects of life yet – sometimes they think that's the be all and end all.
“Unfortunately, those can entice them into an environment that ultimately has them end up being a victim.”
Police began investigating in November, 2010, after getting information the teenager was being offered as a prostitute on several websites, Cpl. Rochlitz said.
The tip triggered an “extensive” investigation, which was aided by an outreach officer with the Mobile Youth Services Team.
Cpl. Rochlitz wouldn't name the websites while the case is before the courts.
She said police in smaller communities don't investigate such incidents on a regular basis.
“Part of why we wanted to share this information is to make people realize it does happen,” Cpl. Rochlitz said.
“It may be seen more regularly in bigger centres, but for us, it does happen.”
Mr. Charlie was already in custody on unrelated charges when the new charges were laid.
The name of the victim, who lives on Vancouver Island, is not being released because of her age.
Police in B.C. have previously investigated cases of teen prostitution over the Internet.
In October, 2010, RCMP in Chilliwack began looking into allegations a teenage girl was selling sexual services and recruiting others into the sex trade.
A 14-year-old girl – who police called the “ringleader” – was charged after the investigation turned up online ads on Craigslist in the erotic services section.
A 51-year-old man was also charged with two counts of sexual assault in connection with the case.
Operators of the online classified site removed the ads at the time and co-operated with police.