Man, teenager face prostitution and human trafficking charges in 'unique' Halifax case
In a rare case for Halifax police, a man and teenager appeared in court on Friday to face allegations including human trafficking and living off the avails of teenage prostitution.
Halifax Regional Police searched two locations on Thursday — residences on Hastings Drive in Dartmouth and Old Sambro Road in Halifax — arresting both suspects and seizing evidence.
A 16-year-old male youth, who cannot be identified, and 25-year-old Richard Hover Cooper are in custody facing more than a dozen charges each — with the possibility of more on the way.
Halifax Regional Police Supt. Jim Perrin said the case is a rare one.
“Human trafficking is actually a unique charge to us,” he said.
“We’ve laid five (charges) to my knowledge over the past number of years, but this is the first time we’ve laid charges against a young offender.”
Police say the arrests stem from an investigation that began in early March.
Police say Cooper was advertising online.
The victims include two girls, aged 17 and 19, and a 16-year-old male youth, police say.
“What really makes up the human trafficking (charge), is that you are being exploited for a purpose and that you don’t think you can get out of that situation because of the fear or threat of violence,” Perrin said.
On Friday, Cooper appeared in Dartmouth provincial court while the teenage accused appeared in Halifax provincial youth court, each facing charges including:
- Procuring an underage victim for sexual services
- Advertising to provide sexual services
- Living off the avails of prostitution
- Making and possessing child pornography
- Trafficking a person under the age of 18
Cooper is also charged with sexual assault.
Police say the victims are now safe.
Both suspects are to be held in custody until at least next week.
Crown attorney Terry Nickerson says it’s too soon to say whether he’ll oppose their release.
“There’s a large volume of disclosure in this case that just came in this afternoon, so one thing I will have to do between now and Tuesday is actually review the case properly before I make a final decision,” Nickerson said.
Police say there could be more victims, and urge anyone with information to contact them at 902-490-5016 or give an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers online or by phone at 1-800-222-TIPS.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kelland Sundahl