Alleged pimp also charged with human trafficking
A man who police say forced a teenage girl and a young woman into prostitution has been charged with human trafficking in Toronto.
Mark Anthony Burton, also known as Ricky Downey, appeared in court on Monday via video from Toronto East Detention Centre.
Burton, 43, was charged with two counts of procuring a person to become a prostitute, living on the avails of prostitution and procuring illicit sex. He was also charged with human trafficking.
While human trafficking has been in the Criminal Code for more than six years, Toronto police have laid few charges and have yet to land a conviction.
"This is the first time that we've actually laid human trafficking charges in relation to a domestic case, which means that it occurred here in Canada," Det. Const. Leanne Marchen told CTV Toronto on Monday.
Burton, wearing an orange jumpsuit, showed no reaction to the new charges, CTV Toronto's Tamara Cherry reported.
During a routine traffic stop at a downtown intersection last summer, Burton was pulled over, police said.
Police allege that they found Burton with an underage sex worker.
"These girls would do sex work and hand over all their earnings in exchange for drugs or a meal," Marchen said. "Is it voluntary? I don't believe it is…The one young lady was subjected to physical violence."
In 1992, Burton was convicted of procuring a person to become a prostitute and assault causing bodily harm. Six years later he was convicted of procuring, exercising control and living on the avails of prostitution.
He also has convictions for gun and drug crimes, robbery, sex assault, extortion, uttering threats and criminal harassment.
Police allege Burton began grooming one girl for prostitution over the phone while he was doing time at Kingston Penitentiary. He was released in 2009.
Burton faces 25 charges, including two counts of human trafficking and two counts of material benefit from human trafficking.
He is scheduled to stand trial on the pimping and human trafficking charges in mid-March.
Police said that they believe there are still victims who have not come forward. They're asking anyone with information to call the Toronto Police Special Victims Unit at 416-456-7259.
With files from CTV Toronto's Tamara Cherry. Follow her on Twitter at @tamaracherry.