Man who pimped out underage girls sentenced to 14 years
Published Wednesday, February 14, 2018 10:40AM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 14, 2018 7:22PM PST
A Vancouver, B.C. man convicted of pimping out high school girls has been sentenced to spend 14 years behind bars, minus time served.
Michael Bannon was handed his prison term Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court, two weeks after he pleaded guilty to 22 criminal counts, including sexual interference.
He was also given a lifetime ban on accessing the internet – a tool he used to lure victims as young as 14 years old with false promises of modelling work.
Victim's advocate Diane Sowden said the internet ban is a key part of Bannon's sentence, and one that highlights the dangers young people can face on social media.
"The weapon that he used was the internet, so of course take that weapon away," said Sowden, the executive director of the Children of the Street Society.
Bannon admitted to contacting girls online and convincing them to come to downtown Vancouver hotels. There, he would ply them with drugs and pimp them out to men who responded to ads he posted online.
"Parents have to realize that this can happen overnight, and that's literally what happened with some of his victims," Sowden said.
The best thing concerned parents can do to protect their children, according to Sowden, is speak with them about which sites they use and what risks are out there.
"And don't talk about it in a way that's judgmental," she added. "Talk about it in a way that's relaxing, calm, and that way if something does happen, hopefully, the youth will feel comfortable reaching out to that parent."
Crown prosecutors and defence lawyers agreed to jointly recommend a 14-year sentence for Bannon's plea, which spared his young victims from the potential trauma of having to recount his crimes on the witness stand.
Lead prosecutor Geordie Proulx said he hopes the length of the prison term will act as a deterrent to other potential predators.
"Men of like mind who think they can prey on vulnerable young women will know what happens to them if they're caught," Proulx said.
Because Bannon has been in custody since 2015, his sentence amounts to another 10 years behind bars.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Shannon Paterson