My husband and I recently stumbled upon a story of teenage prostitution close to home. A 40 year-old man named Andrija Kandic, owner of a former Guelph sex shop called Sweet Dreams, is on trial for arranging prostitution services for teenage girls. Here are the details provided by Guelph Mercury, followed by some thoughts and questions I have about the whole thing.
Two police detectives testified that child pornographic images were found on Kandic’s computers. On one computer there were 333 child pornographic images and 112 were considered accessible. Another computer held 184 child pornographic images, with eight considered accessible. On the USB drive, there were 38 child pornographic images of two Guelph teenagers the Crown alleges were solicited for prostitution on a website.
In addition to the pictures of the two Guelph girls on the computers and USB drive, court heard several of the other images found, that were classified as child pornography were of unidentified children, some ranging from ages 8 to 13 years old.
Kandic is pleading not guilty for the following: permitting someone
under 16 and someone under 18 to be in his home to engage in sexual activity, two counts of living off the income of prostitution, possessing child pornography, making child pornography and having child pornography to distribute it.
One of the teenage girls who testified in the case shared these details:
She met Kandic a couple of years ago when he was selling cigarettes to her and a friend from a native reserve. She was 15 years old at the time. She noticed that the girl living with Kandic was making a lot of money and asked her how she was doing it. The girl replied that she was having sex with clients for money.
Eventually, she had a discussion with Kandic about doing the same.
He was very well aware that I was 15, the teenager said, adding they invented a story for the clients that she was about 19 or 20 and in college taking hairdressing and needed tuition money. She said she would get $120 for 30 minutes with a client and $180 for a full hour. Kandic would take an $80 cut from the hour and $50 from the 30 minute appointments. She said she was given a cellphone and pictures, some nude and some in lingerie, were taken of her and posted online. She recalled Kandic referencing Craigslist for posting the ads. He made it very clear that he would end up doing jail time because I was a minor, she said.
Here is an interesting twist: The teenage girl foster mother said that on the evening of April 30, 2010, the police brought her foster daughter home dressed in an outrageously sexual outfit with thigh-high boots, a bustier with a shirt tied around it and a short skirt. The police had picked up the teenager at Kandic home and later that weekend the foster mother went over to his former sex shop to introduce herself because she thought he was dating her foster daughter.
She said she made it known that her child was 15 and Kandic said he realized that. He told her that when the teenager turned 16, she could move in with him, since he ran a rooming house for young girls to teach them life skills.
The trial is on-going and more details will be sorted out as it continues, but here are some of my thoughts and questions so far:
- What was Kandic doing selling teenagers cigarettes? Was that part of his strategy for meeting young girls?
- Did a boyfriend/care-taker relationship form between the teenagers and Kandic?
- Who are the other pornographic images of? How did he have access to 8 year-old children?
- Why would a guy like this start a house to help girls develop life skills? What exactly do “life skills” mean?
- Why would a foster mother allow her daughter to live with a 40 year-old at the age of 16 after police had brought her home from his place dressed in an outragously sexual outfit? Do we need to screen foster parents a little more thoroughly?
- There are rumours that this same girl was providing escort services through the Love Shop, another Guelph sex shop. On one hand she admitted she’d told Kandic she was providing services for the Love Shop, but on the other hand she denied in court that she actually did. The Love Shop denies it as well. If it is indeed just a rumour, how and why did it start?
This is a perfect example of how manipulation and exploitation of vulnerability usually define prostitution and sex trafficking. In this case, it does not seem that these two teenage girls were kidnapped or being held against their will. However if the girl’s story proves true, there are strong elements of manipulation and deception that Kandic has mastered to make a buck off the exploitation of minors. Through situations like this girls can end up in a lifetime of prostitution because they feel it is the only thing they have to offer the world. Whether they continue working for a pimp or branch out and provide sexual services on their own, this can hardly be considered a real choice.
Ultimately, the verdict will be established in court, and I will be sure to follow the story as it unfolds and keep you posted. You can read the Guelph Mercury articles here:
- Second day of trial for Guelph man arranging prostitution services for teenage girls
- Teen girl says she discussed sex for money with accused in prostitution case
- Guelph sex shop refutes prostitution allegations made at trial of former competitor
What do you think about this? What questions does a story like this raise for you? How can we be part of preventing men from preying on the vulnerability of young girls?