OTTAWA — As the first of three teen girls accused of forcing other teens into prostitution made an appearance at an Ottawa court, a middle-aged man told the Citizen Wednesday that an underaged victim was delivered to his door.
Donald Derouchie, 51, said a girl in a tiny pink dress and heavy makeup who appeared to be a minor was brought to his home by two other young females. He said she walked a few steps in before bursting into tears and telling him she had been forced to come. He said he helped her by giving her a change of clothes and sending her home in a cab he paid for.
What led to that day in his apartment began seven months earlier, Derouchie said, when he met a young woman on Craigslist. He had recently met her in person for the first time when she came to his home to listen to music and eat pizza, he said.
Derouchie said he separated from his wife in 2006 and only wanted companionship. He said the young woman showed him identification that said she was in her 20s. He said he now believes she is one of the two 15-year-old girls charged with human trafficking, abduction, sexual assault and other offences for allegedly forcing a number of girls into sex acts with adult johns. A third suspect, 17, is still wanted by police.
Derouchie told the Citizen that a few weeks ago, the person he knew from Craigslist told him she wanted to introduce him to a friend of hers. He said that when she came with that friend, the two brought the girl in the pink dress, who he said looked no older than 17 years old.
Derouchie said the girl entered his home, and he locked his door in case the two other girls tried to get in. He asked the girl her age, which is when she broke down in tears.
“This girl was shaking. She was crying profusely. I can’t get the vision out of my head,” Derouchie said. “You should have heard her. She said, ‘They are making me do this. I was just with another man.’”
He said the girl was adamant that he not call police, fearing what the girls who delivered her would do if they found out. They had already threatened violence if she didn’t do what they asked and had stolen her identification and her purse, and made her dress up in another girl’s clothes, he said.
With the two other girls locked out of Derouchie’s home, the teenager ran into his bathroom, took off her makeup and changed into clothes he gave her, he said.
“I personally handed her a pair of $50 polo shorts, I gave her my black flip flops, I gave her a polo shirt,” he said. “For me to give up Ralph Lauren, you know that I was passionate about making sure this girl was OK.”
When the girl returned from the bathroom, Derouchie said he called a cab for her, gave the driver $50 and told him to take her straight home.
The girl that Derouchie had met online returned to pick up the teenager, he said, but she had already left.
The girl was furious that he let the teenager leave, but eventually she left his property, he said.
“I can’t believe people are out there doing that,” Derouchie said. “It’s different if a girl says I want $200 an hour, the girl is of age and that’s what she wants to do.”
Meanwhile, one of the two 15-year-old girls was remanded into custody after appearing at the Elgin Street courthouse Wednesday morning. It was unclear whether this was the one Derouchie believes he met online. None of the three accused teens can be named due to provisions in the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The teen spoke clearly and loudly to the judge during her brief appearance.
Her mother sat on a bench in the first row of the courtroom, watching her daughter, who was wearing a purple hooded sweatshirt with her long hair pulled back in a ponytail.
The teen will return to court Monday morning when the date of her bail hearing will be set.
On Wednesday, a close neighbour of the accused who appeared in court painted a portrait of a troubled kid who often skipped school and stayed out late.
“She was a hard kid,” the neighbour said. “You could tell by her language, the way she walked, the way she spoke to her mom. She had no respect for her mother.”
The neighbour said the accused and her mother moved into their apartment in December. Noisy parties and late-night visits started soon after, the neighbour said. The girl’s father appeared to be completely out of the picture, she said, and both the suspect and her mother kept very late hours.
“I would be in bed at 11 and neither of them would be home,” the neighbour said. “There was a lot of coming and going.”
Through conversations with the mother, the neighbour said she heard the girl was having difficulties in school. Her mother had recently switched her daughter to new high school in an effort to boost her grades, but it didn’t work, the neighbour said.
The suspect would leave for school only to turn around once her mother left home for the day, she said.
“It’s scary,” she said. “You really have to feel for the mother, she’s doing the best she can. You never expect this to happen to your kids.”
The neighbour was home and witnessed part of the arrest on Saturday night. She said the police had come by on Friday, but the suspect wouldn’t leave the house. On Saturday night, the neighbour said, the suspect was laughing as she was led away by officers.
“She thought it was a joke,” the neighbour said. “She just said she was embarrassed that they put her in handcuffs. They’re kids, they don’t take it seriously.”
The accused faces a total of 18 charges related to three teens who were allegedly lured to an east-end home on three separate occasions in late May and early June. One of the girls was just 13 years old.
Police say there could be more victims and police are asking anyone with a similar experience to report the crime.
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