Over 100 men were arrested for trying to buy sex from girls in Ontario — here are their names

Following a four-year undercover human trafficking investigation, York Regional Police have arrested 104 men for attempting to sexually exploit children.

Following a four-year undercover human trafficking investigation called “Project Raphael,” York Regional Police have arrested 104 men for attempting to sexually exploit children.

According to York Regional Police Det.-Sgt. Thai Truong, many of the men arrested were married, disrupting the oft-repeated lie that johns are simply lonely or “socially awkward” men who need company and affection.

Susan Orlando, of the Attorney General’s human trafficking prosecution team, reaffirmed this at a press conference on Friday, saying the men arrested “had stable jobs and families, and [were] not the type of people who [we] usually see in the criminal justice system.”

Truong added that the men came from “all walks of life” and were arrested as first time offenders for negotiating “the purchase of a prostituted child between the ages of 13 and 16 years old.” Most of the men were from the Greater Toronto area.

The police targeted men by putting ads up online, and used undercover operators who said they were children, to see if the johns would continue to pursue an encounter. Orlando says:

“All of the people caught in the sting were prepared to pay money to have sex with children… When they showed up at the hotel room that is what they expected to do. They didn’t expect to see a police officer on the other side.”

This means no actual children were victimized as part of the sting. Rather, the aim was to prevent potential predators from exploiting prostituted children in the future. Truong explained, “If you look at it from another perspective — from a preventative measure — we’ve stopped 104 men from purchasing 104 children.”

This is a particularly productive and progressive approach in that, rather than waiting for girls to be victimized, then arresting perpetrators, the exploitation itself is prevented from ever happening. This strategy is something that should, from my perspective, also be used to target men who seek to buy sex from adult women, though Project Raphael is undoubtedly a positive step towards holding predators accountable.

We know that it is very common for prostituted women to report having entered into the industry during adolescence, which tells us there is an enormous market for girls. It also tells us that there is no clear line between the prostituted women labelled “consenting adults” by advocates of legalization, and exploited underage girls in the industry. These exploited girls become exploited adults, in other words.

Indeed, after interviews and investigations in 2013, the police found that the average age of entry into prostitution was 14.8 years old in York Region. Through research conducted in 2014, police reported that 45 per cent of prostitution victims rescued in the York Region were children.

To evidence how common it is for men to seek out prostituted girls, the police reported that in just three days of the investigation in 2017, officers arrested 19 men who believed that they were purchasing sex from either a 13-year-old or a 14-year-old.

Of the 104 arrests, 32 of the suspects had pleaded guilty, and sentences ranged from three to seven months. The men also received fines and probation, and their names were entered on a sex-offender registry.* An incomplete list of the men arrested was provided by the York Regional Police:

*This article was updated on April 24, 2017 to reflect additional information.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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