|Two 15-year-old Ottawa girls were arrested in connection with human trafficking at the Russell housing complex. (KELLY ROCHE/QMI Agency)
OTTAWA -- If a 17-year-old girl alleged to be involved in pimping out other young girls for sex does not get arrested soon, Ottawa police may seek court permission to publicly reveal her identity in a bid to track her down.
Her identity is shielded by the Youth Criminal Justice Act but police could apply for a court order before a youth court judge.
Ottawa police Staff Sgt. John McGetrick of the sex assault unit has never been involved in a case with a young offender where that step was taken, but said it is an avenue police may pursue in this case.
"That will be an option at some point if we don't have success," McGetrick said on Thursday. "Absolutely, it is something we will consider at some point."
The decision to reveal the identity of an underage suspect is made on a case-by-case basis and must be balanced against public safety, according to police.
Police must also show they have exhausted other "less intrusive methods."
Even then, the release of a photograph is not a guarantee and a judge could decide to release a name only.
While being able to identify the girl to the community would likely bolster tips, police are working on several leads although it is unknown if the suspect is in Ottawa.
McGetrick declined to elaborate on when police may seek the order on the 17-year-old, who has been on the lam since the weekend.
Two 15-year-old girls facing human trafficking and other charges are already in custody.