The charges come after a lengthy investigation by Calgary police and RCMP at an acreage east of Chestermere
A Calgary man is facing a litany of criminal charges related to the kidnapping, drugging and sexual assault of multiple sex workers.
Calgary police Supt. Cliff O’Brien told reporters Monday that investigators believe Mantha approached at least three women on 19th Avenue S.E. in the community of Forest Lawn between December 2021 and March 2023.
You are reading: Calgary man charged with drugging and kidnapping sex workers, then assaulting them on acreage
Police allege he drugged the women, who worked in the sex trade, and took them to the rural property in Rocky View County where they were physically and sexually assaulted and confined.
“Anytime any victim is confined, obviously it’s going to be traumatic,” O’Brien said. “In a case like this, as you can tell from the charges, it’s probably just that much more traumatic for them.”
Acreage was searched for five days
City officers executed a search warrant on the property, on Vale View Road in Rocky View County, alongside Mounties on Thursday, kicking off a five-day probe that saw about two dozen investigators scour the sizeable acreage. The search continued through Monday, and is expected to wrap up Tuesday.
Mantha, a tenant of the property, is charged with 16 offences:
- one count of kidnapping;
- two counts of forcible confinement;
- two counts of administering a noxious thing;
- one count of sexual assault;
- two counts of sexual assault with a weapon;
- one count of sexual assault causing bodily harm;
- one count of assault with a weapon;
- two counts of uttering threats;
- one count of pointing a firearm; and
- three outstanding warrants for sexual assault, assault causing bodily harm and fail to attend court.
“They’re serious charges, serious allegations,” said O’Brien. “The investigation is ongoing and there may very well be additional charges.”
At the time of his arrest, Mantha had three outstanding warrants for charges of sexual assault, assault causing bodily harm and failing to attend. Police said those charges were in RCMP jurisdiction, but did not offer a specific location.
Mantha is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.
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Neighbours describe suspect as a ‘hoarder’
The investigation that led to the charges evolved rapidly over the past several weeks, culminating in a large, cross-jurisdictional search effort.
“For these particular victims to come forward and talk to us, it’s very courageous, and we’re very appreciative that they did,” said O’Brien.
The lengthy search at the property — about 20 kilometres from Calgary’s eastern city limits and a short distance south of the Trans-Canada Highway — involved forensic and canine units, with officers seen conducting grid searches and tossing bags of evidence into unmarked police vehicles.
O’Brien said “thousands” of exhibits were taken as evidence from the property. He confirmed cadaver dogs were used in the search. He noted CPS is “not ruling anything out” and is looking at ongoing missing persons cases in relation to the case.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that there’s nothing evidentiary that’s missed,” he said.
The focus of the search appeared to be a shop space the homeowners, Paul and Muriel Lock, rented to Mantha, whom residents of the sparsely populated rural road described as “odd” and a “hoarder.” Police confirmed Mantha was living in the outbuilding on the property.
Doug King, a professor of justice studies at Mount Royal University, said police will have to answer for how long it’s taken to intervene.
“Why was he under the radar for so long?” said King.
When asked by reporters, O’Brien didn’t give an exact timeline of when the incidents were first brought to their attention.
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“Over the course of time, we did start to receive little pieces of information. And again, as you know, these investigations are often like jigsaw puzzles and you get a small little piece here and a small little piece there,” said O’Brien.
Victims encouraged to contact police, agencies
Any other possible victims of the accused should feel more comfortable and safe coming forward, King said on Monday evening.
“If they were worried the accused was still on the loose and was threatening them with violence or worse to keep quiet, that risk is now out of the way,” said King.
King stressed that it’s also “extraordinarily important” that local police are communicating through their networks with other sex workers to reassure them they aren’t in danger coming forward.
“Let’s just hope that it does not become a qualitatively worse situation with more and more victims and, hopefully, there haven’t been any deaths involved, things like that. This is scary stuff,” said King.
“We have to provide protection for sex workers.”
O’Brien said he thinks Calgary patrol officers do a good job of speaking with local women in the sex trade.
“The investigation is ongoing and if there are other properties that come to light or other places that we need to search we will absolutely do that,” O’Brien said.
Calgary police encourage victims of sexual assault to report to their local police, noting Canadian law has no statute of limitations on sexual assault reporting.
They added crimes against sex workers are under-reported, and direct victims who do not feel comfortable contacting police to agencies including Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse, 211 Alberta and the Alberta One Line for Sexual Violence.