Published:September 10, 2021
An Edmonton woman who admitted to trafficking two teenage girls for sex should be sentenced to 14 years in prison, Crown prosecutors argued Friday.
Louisa Wallis, 27, was arrested in 2019 after an investigation by Edmonton police into two underage girls who were advertised online for sexual services. Wallis and her then-boyfriend initially faced a total of 34 charges including sexual interference, trafficking a minor and making child pornography.
Prosecutor Danielle Fostey said Wallis used “control and manipulation” to abuse the girls for her own profit and the sexual gratification of herself and her boyfriend. She noted both victims were homeless and addicted to drugs when the couple recruited them.
“This was the sale of children for sex,” she said, urging Justice John Henderson to pass a 14-year sentence to denounce Wallis’s crimes.
Wallis’s own lawyer asked for a six-year to eight-year sentence, arguing his client was herself a product of abuse, poverty and addiction. Henderson reserved his decision until next month.
Wallis’s boyfriend has not been convicted and goes to trial next year.
According to an agreed statement of facts, the boyfriend met the first victim, whose name is protected by a court-ordered publication ban, in the summer of 2018. The girl was a “victim of abuse and neglect” and was often homeless or living in group homes, court documents state.
In early 2019, the boyfriend invited the then-16-year-old to his Queen Mary Park apartment to meet his girlfriend, Wallis. They gave the girl crystal meth and began to include her in sexual activity.
Eventually, Wallis told the girl she could make money escorting. They took photos and posted ads offering themselves online as a “duo.” Wallis told the girl to pretend she was 18, and assured her she would be in the room for all appointments. Wallis was in charge of logistics for the girl, including arranging appointments, transportation, prices and payment. The couple also provided the girl with a regular supply of meth.
Wallis told the girl she didn’t have to do anything that made her uncomfortable. In reality, she manipulated the youth, using her pregnancy as an excuse to guilt her into performing. On one occasion, the girl broke down in tears, trying to leave the apartment and telling the couple she didn’t want to have sex with a client. In response, Wallis locked herself in the bathroom and made sounds like she was throwing up. “She told (the girl) she was stressed and the baby was going to die,” court records state. “(The girl) complied with the accused.”
Wallis’s activities came to light in early 2019, when a government social worker working with at-risk youth found advertisements featuring the 16-year-old. Edmonton police eventually visited the apartment, where they found Wallis with another girl, aged 15, who they apprehended under child protection legislation.
Wallis later told police she was an escort working to raise bail money for her boyfriend, who she said “tried to help girls he found on the streets.”
A police detective eventually seized Wallis’s phone and found child pornography involving Wallis, her boyfriend and both girls, including seven videos and 24 photos. Court documents describe one of the girls in the videos as “lethargic … making no movements and not speaking.”
Wallis pleaded guilty earlier this year to sexual exploitation, making child pornography and procuring a child for sexual services.
Fostey argued Henderson should craft a punishment that condemns Wallis’s actions in the “strongest” terms. She stressed that Wallis was a willing participant in the girls’ abuse and not someone who was pressured by their partner to do so.
“Ms. Wallis took these girls in and essentially showed them how to engage in sexual services, and used that for her own profit,” she said.
“This is a situation where a sentence of double digits is necessary.”
Defence lawyer Brian Hurley said 14 years is excessive, especially given the fact his client pleaded guilty.
He said she has no prior criminal record despite a “horrendous childhood” that included poverty, violence, abuse and mental health problems. He said Wallis was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, and that the family moved often.
Wallis herself, who has been in custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre for 11 months, made a tearful apology to court.
“I want to apologize for my crimes and begin a chance to be a healthy member of society,” she said. “And I want to apologize to the victims, because I feel completely awful.”
Wallis’s co-accused, 26-year-old Michael Moffat, is scheduled to have a jury trial on eight charges in October 2022.
Henderson is expected to sentence Wallis on Oct. 13.