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RCMP – Winnipeg Free Press

RCMP – Winnipeg Free Press
RCMP – Winnipeg Free Press

A First Nation woman from Long Plain is accused of befriending teenagers and luring them into a room where they were forced to perform sex acts with six men as part of a human trafficking ring in Portage la Prairie.

Police announced 65 charges against the six men and one woman during a press conference at RCMP D Division headquarters on Tuesday.

“This was a fairly organized operation where the suspects used multiple platforms with the deliberate intent to exploit youth,” said RCMP Insp. Shawn Pike.

“While we were able to disrupt this operation and support the two known survivors, the tragic reality is that more of this kind of thing is happening. If you think this doesn’t happen in your community, you’re wrong.”

NIC ADAM / FREE PRESS

“This was a fairly organized operation where the suspects used multiple platforms with the deliberate intent to exploit youth,” RCMP Insp. Shawn Pike said Tuesday.

Portage RCMP began investigating Feb. 2 after receiving a tip about a girl walking through the city accompanied by older men. Officers located the girl and another teen, both 15, and learned they were being exploited, Pike said.

Police are continuing to search for a third girl, believed to be 13 or 14, who was also exploited. The investigation “is still ongoing” and it is possible there are other victims, Pike said.

According to investigators, Chasity Nicole Assiniboine, 43, befriended the teens and offered them drugs and money to meet up with her friends.

The teens went to homes in Portage, a community of about 13,000 people located about 80 kilometres west of Winnipeg, along with Assiniboine, between June 2023 and December 2023, police said.

“These girls trusted this adult female. In many cases, the juveniles were locked into the location by the adult female who remained throughout the entire interaction. These juveniles were unable to escape,” Pike said.

Police said men also sent nude photos to the two girls and demanded that the victims send photos of themselves. The men and Assiniboine communicated via Snapchat or Facebook Messenger to seduce the youths or obtain sexual acts from them, RCMP said.

“These girls trusted this grown woman.”–RCMP Detective Shawn Pike

According to the RCMP, Assiniboine was paid in drugs, including methamphetamine and cocaine, in exchange for arranging the sexual encounters.

The RCMP’s Child Exploitation Unit executed 10 search warrants in Portage between February and June 4, seizing computers, cell phones and external hard drives as evidence. Officers also seized a large quantity of methamphetamine and cocaine, as well as 13 rifles and shotguns.

Six Portage men — Sean Michael Boak, 40; Alexander Paul Lidster, 39; Wesley Clayton Roulette, 44; David Guy Howard Taylor, 40; Scott Joseph Taylor, 34; and Frank Peter Justin Tecza, 39 — are charged with sex crimes.

Assiniboine is charged with two counts of human trafficking of a person under 18 and other offenses. All of the suspects know each other, police said.

The extent of the operation and the potential for additional victims remain unknown until a forensic examination of the seized computers and electronics is completed, said Tara Clelland, co-ordinator of the RCMP’s human trafficking unit.

It is common for women to recruit young women into the sex industry because they often see it as less threatening, she said.

“As a society, we find it difficult to accept that women cause harm and exploitation, especially in sexual crimes.”

NIC ADAM / FREE PRESS

“As a society, we find it difficult to accept that women are the ones who cause harm, who exploit women, particularly in sexual crimes,” said Tara Clelland, RCMP human trafficking unit co-ordinator.

She added that many cases of sexual exploitation and human trafficking often go overlooked or unreported.

Clelland urged parents and the public to remain alert for suspicious behavior and to contact police if children show signs of abuse, are seen only at odd times or have difficulty explaining their behavior.

“If something feels wrong, it usually is, so just pay attention. We can’t rely on victims and survivors to raise their hands and say, ‘Hey, I need help.’ Some don’t even realize they’re being exploited while it’s happening.”

Portage Mayor Sharilyn Knox said the news will be shocking to residents of the small town where “people know each other.”

“It’s heartbreaking… This is probably the hardest day I’ve had as mayor. To think that children in our community have been harmed in this way and to know that more could happen,” she said.

“This is just another wake-up call for us to really look at our community.”

NIC ADAM / FREE PRESS

“It’s heartbreaking… This is probably the hardest day I’ve had as mayor,” said Portage Mayor Sharilyn Knox.

The Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth office issued a statement to the Free press about Tuesday’s arrests and says it continues to call on the government to take strategic measures to end sexual exploitation and trafficking of children.

“Investments in prevention, early detection and intervention are crucial so that they do not slip through the cracks and become involved in tragic cases such as this,” the statement said.

The agency previously asked the province to review Manitoba’s sexual exploitation strategy, also known as Tracia’s Trust, and expand services for youth victims.

The province has also requested that addiction treatment programs be reviewed and reformed and a safe facility be created for sexually exploited youth.

The government’s 2023 compliance report shows no progress has been made on either recommendation since at least 2020.

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Tyler Searle
News reporter

Tyler Searle is a multimedia producer who writes for the Free press‘s city office. A graduate of Red River College Polytechnic’s creative communications program, he wrote for the Stonewall Teulon Grandstand, Selkirk Record And Express Weekly News before joining the newspaper in 2022. Read more about Tyler.

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