A year and a half after a teenage girl escaped barefoot and crying from his basement, a 34-year-old Nova Scotia man has been sentenced to just under six years in prison for luring and trafficking two underage girls.
In a written Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruling released Monday, Justice James Chipman accepted a joint recommendation from lawyers and sentenced Leeanthon Oliver to eight years in prison, less 840 days spent on remand.
Oliver made contact with the two girls, both from Pictou County, on separate occasions in early 2017, befriending them online before transporting them to Halifax and forcing them into prostitution.
One of the girls, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, met Oliver through Snapchat in late January 2017. He told her he was 18 years old and sent her flattering messages, requested a “sexy photo” from her and sent her an intimate picture.
On Feb. 21, he and another man picked her up in New Glasgow and drove her to a residence in the suburban community of Hammonds Plains, where Oliver brought her to an unfinished basement.
The court decision says he offered her alcohol, which she declined, before he touched her under her clothing and “slapped her buttocks multiple times saying how beautiful she was and how they were going to make lots of money.”
The girl said she saw him using backpage.com, a site known for advertising sexual services at the time.
Early the next morning, Oliver brought her to the Harbourfront Marriott Hotel in Halifax, where two men forced her to have sex with one of them.
“She told him to stop several times and told him it hurt,” the judge said in his ruling.
“She was then given $440.00. (The girl) gave Oliver a portion of this money upon her return to the vehicle about 40 minutes after first entering the hotel.”
After they returned to the Hammonds Plains residence, she told him she wanted to go home and asked him to drive her. Oliver refused.
He eventually passed out after drinking alcohol and the girl texted a friend for help, saying she was locked in the basement and unable to get away. Her friend called the police, and the responding officers found her after she snuck out of the house, walking down the road without her shoes and “visibly upset.”
Oliver was arrested on Feb. 23, 2017, and additional charges came a month later after police learned about and reached out to another underage victim.
This girl, also unidentified, arrived at the Hammonds Plains residence in January 2017 and spent several days with Oliver, where she grudgingly agreed to sexual acts with two of his friends.
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Oliver posted advertisements for her on backpage.com using a photo of a different female, and the girl was directed to about 10 calls over a five-day period, receiving between $75-100 per call.
She returned to New Glasgow after a few days, but she was taken back to Hammonds Plains in mid-February. The document says she and Oliver got drunk before “he had sex with her and then he passed out.”
“The next day she felt so stupid for having drank and had sex with him and was tearful when recounting this fact to the police,” said the ruling. “She indicated to the police that she had thought he was 23, and was very upset to have learned that a 32-year-old man in fact had sex with her.”
She texted her aunt, who said she would pick her up, and the girl ran out of the house when she knew her aunt was close by.
During his sentencing, Oliver said he was sorry for his actions, telling the judge he had a difficult life: he said he grew up around “hustlers, pimps, crack addicts, and prostitutes,” he began selling drugs at 14, his brother was murdered when he was a teenager and he was sexually abused as a child.
“I became the very thing that I hated,” he said in his statement.
“I’m sincerely sorry for the victims and their families as well as I hope today brings some sort of closure for them, and at the same time I accept full responsibility for my actions.”
He said in the days leading up to his sentence, he “spent the whole night in tears … begging for God’s forgiveness and power to live differently.”
In a written Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruling released Monday, Chipman said Oliver “has great potential and is articulate” and appeared to have thought long and hard about his crimes.
“I am mindful of Mr. Oliver’s heartfelt, sincere comments documenting what has undoubtedly been a very difficult life, which he characterized as a fast life at times, but a life that has gone to some very dark places. The hope, of course, is that he will be able to turn the page with the benefit of counselling in a federal institution,” he said.
“I want you to think about what has been said as you go away today and reflect on it and hopefully work, as you say, to become a better person.”
Oliver pleaded guilty to trafficking of a person under the age of 18, sexual interference of a person under the age of 16, sexual assault, receiving material benefits from human trafficking, and making child pornography.
He has also been ordered to provide a DNA sample for a national databank and will have to register as a sex offender when he gets out of prison.