Former VSB trustee charged in operation targeting 'men preying on teens'
Published Wednesday, January 23, 2019 9:43AM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 23, 2019 4:58PM PST
CTV News has confirmed a former Vancouver School Board trustee is among seven men now charged after a Vancouver police sting that targeted men looking to have sex with underage girls.
Ken Clement was a member of the board from 2008 to 2014 and again from October 2017 until his resignation in July of 2018.
At the time, he claimed he resigned for personal reasons.
Court documents show he was arrested on June 27, 2018. He was charged in December with communicating for the purpose of obtaining sexual services for consideration from a person under the age of 18.
According to the BC Prosecution Service, Mario Celo Amistad, Jim Malmros, Jun Jie He, Nikolaos Dais, Donald Schroeder and Mehran Arefi are all facing the same charge.
A man with the same name as Dais recently retired from teaching math at Little Flower Academy, a private all-girls Catholic high school in Vancouver's Shaughnessy neighbourhood.
According to the school's website, a man by the same name also coached girls' volleyball and basketball there over the years.
'Sick to my stomach': School trustee reacts
Patti Bacchus, a Vancouver school trustee who served alongside Clement for six years after they were elected in 2008, said news of the charges "rocked me to the core."
"Having been a school trustee and the chair of the school board I can tell you that there's nothing more important than protecting children from harm and exploitation of any kind," she told CTV News.
"To hear that trusted members in the community in leadership positions have allegedly been involved in seeking sexual services from children is shocking. It makes me sick to my stomach."
47 men arrested 'from all walks of life': VPD
Those charged are among 47 men arrested as part of a larger VPD operation where detectives posed as underage girls and advertised escort services on social media.
Authorities released details of the disturbing nine-day operation on Wednesday, revealing detectives posted decoy advertisements online in a bid to lure "Johns." According to police, investigators told the men the girls were aged between 15 and 17.
"Once detectives established the age, a sex act and fees with the Johns, they were directed to a hotel room," Rankin said. "In the room they found VPD detectives and VPD officers instead of teenage girls."
The deputy chief said those arrested are "from all walks of life, ethnicity, education and employment. The list includes, but is not limited to a school trustee, a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang, a school teacher and a fireman."
And those who work with women who've been trafficked or exploited say that isn't uncommon.
"I wasn't surprised. The survivors we talk with in recovery have experienced purchasing from all walks of life. It's not the person you would expect," Larissa Maxwell of Deborah's Gate Safe House told CTV News.
Maxwell commended the VPD on the operation's success.
"It sends a message to those in our recovery programs that says, 'We actually will step up for you. We will protect you and it's not OK that someone purchased you under the age of 18.'"
Crown prosecutors have since approved charges against the seven men, and police said they expect more to be approved in the coming months.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Shannon Paterson and Allison Hurst
VPD Deputy chief says officers posing as children ages 15-17 online arrested 47 men over 9 days, who came to hotels to try to meet the minors for sex. 7 have been charged and more charges could be coming. Among those caught: a firefighter, a school trustee and a school teacher pic.twitter.com/6C7VXqMj97— Shannon Paterson (@ctv_shannon) January 23, 2019