June 4, 1996

Tom Godfrey

300 Teen Hookers Working
T.O. Streets Shocks Cops

TORONTO - Metro Police say they're alarmed by the growing number of teen hookers -- about 300 -- working the streets.

Det. Craig Lemers, of Metro's juvenile task force, said so far this year they've busted about 50 pimps and removed about 20 teen prostitutes from the streets.

Six pimps have been convicted since January and were slapped with jail terms ranging from four to nine years for exercising control over the teens, Lemers said.

Lemers said the teen hookers can't be charged because they're under 16. He said they're turned over to the Children's Aid Society, where they are held for a couple weeks, but then they often return to prostitution.

"This is a serious concern for us," Lemers said. "I was quite surprised at first to realize there were so many underage girls on the street."

He said last year 292 charges were laid against 85 pimps and 61 teen hookers were turned over to Children's Aid.

"A lot of them go back to the streets," Lemers said. "It takes a long time for us to get to them."

Lemers said teens are recruited by pimps at Union Station, the Bay St. bus station, Eaton Centre and on Yonge St.

He said some girls taken off the street are as young as 11. Most are from northern Ontario or eastern Canada, he said.

"They (pimps) pick on girls with a low self-esteem," Lemers said. Most pimps control about three hookers, who earn up to $1,000 nightly each, he said.

"Nearly 100% of what they earn is turned over to the pimp," he said, adding the teens are fed drugs by the pimps and must work as prostitutes to repay the pimp for the dope.

Lemers said "a large percentage" of the teen hookers have some sort of communicable disease. One 16-year-old arrested downtown by police last month claimed to be HIV-positive.

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Created: November 13, 1996
Last modified: November 18, 1996

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