Edmonton man who sex trafficked teen girl sentenced to seven years in prison

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Forcing a teenage girl into the sex trade has netted an Alberta man seven years in prison.

Islam Montasser did not outwardly react as Court of King’s Bench Justice Steven Mandziuk sentenced him Tuesday, condemning his crimes and saying a message must be sent to those who engage in human trafficking.

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“Everyone involved in the exploitation and trafficking of human beings for their own profit, and for the sexual gratification of others, is complicit in a process of dehumanization, degradation and inhumane, uncivilized treatment,” Mandziuk said.

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“Those who choose to exploit the vulnerable by subjecting them to these degrading and dehumanizing demands and behaviour will pay dearly.”

With credit for time served, and sentence reductions for remand conditions, the 29-year-old Montasser has around three-and-a-half years left to serve.

Montasser, a house painter, met his victim on Facebook in March 2021 when she was 15. The girl, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, had run away from home and was using drugs. Montasser flattered her, telling her she was beautiful and asking if she was interested in “telle work” — slang for sex work performed in hotels. He enticed her to come to Edmonton, telling her she could make $2,000 to $3,000 a day having sex with people.

Montasser also solicited dozens of nude photos and videos from the girl, which he said he would use to make her an OnlyFans account. He asked her not to tell anyone her age because he could get in trouble for “child trafficking,” which would be “embarrassing.”

Over the coming weeks, Montasser and three other co-accused controlled the girl’s life. They created online advertisements for her (though an OnlyFans account was ultimately never used). They arranged for her to meet unidentified men on multiple occasions, who sexually assaulted her for money. Montasser admitted to groping the girl over her clothing on one occasion.

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The girl was also plied with drugs, with Montasser admitting to giving her oxycodone and other substances. She eventually tried to flee. She ended up at a convenience store where she took an unidentified substance, which she hoped was a lethal dose of fentanyl.

Police eventually found the girl after she told a friend “she was being forced to have sex with old men for money and was being fed cocaine.” She did not submit a victim impact statement or appear in court for sentencing.

Offender ‘ashamed’

In February, Montasser pleaded guilty to a single count of trafficking, which carries a sentence of five to 14 years in prison.

Defence lawyer Steven Fix sought the minimum sentence. He said Montasser should receive a lenient sentence for his guilty plea, which saved the victim from having to testify.

Fix sought a sentence reduction for Montasser’s time in remand, which he said included multiple assaults by other inmates and meals containing pork despite being Muslim. Fix painted his client as an unsophisticated “follower” desperate to fit in. While not formally diagnosed, Fix also suggested his client has a learning disability that is “organic and permanent.”

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Montasser told Mandziuk he was “ashamed” of his actions and promised to live a “crime-free” life going forward.

Prosecutor Susan Hughson asked for eight years, citing Montasser’s “predatory” behaviour and noting he was on probation at the time he trafficked the girl. His record includes convictions for failing to attend court, obstructing police, criminal flight, drug possession and possession of stolen property.

Mandziuk ultimately reduced the seven-year sentence by six months to account for time Montasser spent on house arrest, as well as for conditions in remand. The judge credited Montasser 30 days for each time he caught COVID-19 in lock-up, as well as 30 days for the pork incident.

The Crown conceded the remand may have failed to meet Montasser’s dietary restrictions, but said it may have been an accident.

Montasser must also register as a sex offender for 20 years.

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