Halifax community in disbelief after man charged with human trafficking
A quiet suburban Halifax community is in shock following the arrest of one their neighbours on human trafficking and sexual assault charges.
Duncan Robertson Wright, 44, faces 20 charges, all involving three underage girls.
"We were made aware that a 14-year-old, a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old were being directed by a man for purposes of prostitution, so our Special Enforcement Section commenced an investigation,” said Const. Diane Penfound of Halifax Regional Police. (Thursday) at 7:45, they initiated a search warrant on Quartz Drive in Halifax, and a 44-year-old man was arrested without incident."
Members of the community say the neighbourhood is quiet and friendly, and they’re shocked something like this could allegedly happen in the area.
"I'm still reeling in the shock of it and what it means to us as a young family,” said local resident Nicole Snook. “My thoughts, even this morning, turned to the young women and their families, and their courage to come forward."
Last week, Owen Gibson Skeir was sentenced to seven years in prison, the first human trafficking conviction in Nova Scotia under new federal laws.
Miia Suokonautio, the executive director of Halifax's YMCA, says young girls are most at risk from this type of crime.
"What we know is the number one risk factor is you’re a girl, average age is 13, 14, and it's very localized as well. There's a common misconception that this is an international problem, but it also happens locally," said Suokonautio.
Suokonautio says there are large gaps in resources for trafficking victims.
"There isn't public awareness,” she said. “There aren't screening tools and the strong and very valuable network of non-profits that are doing service provision don't really have the core competencies in that area because they're having to make it up on the fly."
None of the charges have been proven in court. Duncan Robertson Wright's bail hearing is set for Tuesday.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Allan April.