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Violent predators troll Vancouver's strip

Boss Hog

TRIBE Member
not very nice Monday morning news, but this is fucked.

Violent predators troll Vancouver's strip

From Monday's Globe and Mail

Vancouver — Last Dec. 2, this entry appeared on Vancouver's so-called ''bad date'' list, compiled for the safety of its skid-row prostitutes: GUN TO HEAD: East Indian male. 5'7'' 180 pounds. Brown eyes. Short black hair. No facial hair. Driving white limo SUV. Woman wasn't working but the limo pulled up and asked if she needed a ride. She said no and turned away. She was grabbed from behind around the neck with a gun to her head. She was raped for five hours. Reported to police at the hospital. Happened three or four months ago and didn't make the bad date sheet but should have.

That item was tucked among 14 terrifying attacks recorded that night. Using simple language and blunt descriptions, the "bad date" list paints a vivid picture of the daily brutality faced by prostitutes in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. They read like mini newspaper stories, each with a headline followed by a brief description of the attack. They are compiled by a Vancouver social-service agency and are almost never reported to police.

Sometimes the violence is psychological, as revealed in the example of the four men driving a late-model Dodge Caravan that same December night. "One of the guys threatened to take worker to the Pickton pig farm."

Other times, there's no sex, just an assault. "Male with no description, driving white car with a camper. Pulled worker into the car, then pushed out and ran over her."

The lists give sex workers some inkling of who to avoid or what cars to be on the lookout for.

But the lists have not stopped the violence in one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods. The city is still reeling from the arrest of Robert William Pickton, who is charged with 22 counts of first-degree murder of street women and now there's news of yet another alleged predator. A married Vancouver banquet worker is accused of torturing up to 50 Vancouver sex workers and raping pre-pubescent girls in Southeast Asia.

In a cruel twist, police say a man told the women beforehand that he wanted to hurt them. The women agreed.

The case has made headlines across the country, but police and social agencies say brutal attacks on women occur every night. The Downtown Eastside, with its huge concentration of drug-addicted women, is a draw for predators from across British Columbia, and even the United States.

Talk to just about any woman on the city's seedy East Hastings Street drag and she will list a litany of hair-raising crimes she's endured -- from gang rapes and robbery to stabbings and abductions -- all committed by people she refers to as "clients."

WHACKED HEAD: Caucasian male. 6 ft. 300 pounds. Age 45-50. Balding with long dark hair at back. No facial hair. Tinted glasses. Said his name was Bob. Driving 4-door older grey Dodge, Alberta plates . . . Picked up worker at St. George and Broadway. Went behind college. Paid $40 for BJ [blow job]. Worker was doing date when he whacked her on the head. He then stole the money. Worker told the police who told her to go home.

"If you're a violent, sexual predator and you like to victimize people, this is where you go," said Elaine Allan, who used to work at a Downtown Eastside drop-in centre for sex workers and who knew 20 of 61 women missing in Vancouver. "You have this critical mass of extremely addicted women.

"If there's an assault or rape, the chances of anyone seeing it or reporting it are low."

The Downtown Eastside, with its raging drug scene, is a feeding ground for people bent on hurting women, Ms. Allan said. For every predator caught, there are scores more who operate undetected.

Police say many who maim and torture prostitutes are smart and manipulative. Some have careers and families. They come from every economic and ethnic background, said Vancouver Police Inspector John McKay, who works in the Downtown Eastside.

Others, such as torture suspect Donald Bakker, never had a run-in with the law. "They're not on the radar," Insp. McKay said.

Police stumbled onto Mr. Bakker when they received an anonymous 911 report of a woman screaming in a waterfront park near the Downtown Eastside. Police found a woman in distress and a man with a video camera and tapes. A subsequent search of the man's car and home turned up nearly 70 tapes containing dozens of disturbing images of the suspect torturing women and raping children.

Mr. Bakker faces 16 counts of sexual assault, sexual assault causing bodily harm, unlawful confinement and sexual assault with a weapon.

Psychiatrists who treat violent sex offenders agree they hail from every level of society. They also agree that sex offenders are among the most manipulative of criminals and know every trick to avoid getting caught. The most tried and true is to select victims who won't be believed or will be reluctant to tell. Forensic psychiatrist Kulwant Riar said there's a variety of theories on what causes sexual deviancy, from childhood trauma to anger against women based on perceived wrongs committed by them.

Some rapists can be treated, especially if their pathology is rooted in anger or a desire for vengeance against women. More tricky is the offender who derives pleasure from attacking vulnerable people. That drive is impossible to cure, said Dr. Riar, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia. Some can be treated or brought under control by keeping them from potential victims, but they can't be reformed.

FORCED BJ. Caucasian male. Age 30s. Brown eyes, Black hair and goatee. Driving 4-door new black Honda Civic. Forced worker at knife point to give him a blow job.

If the Vancouver torture case is any indication, the suspect was crafty about the victims he selected. Police say the assaults on the sex workers took place over a six-year period. In that time, not one victim complained to police.

This silence is a source of heated debate in Vancouver. Police critics say sex workers don't report violence because they don't trust police. This emboldens predators. Convicted serial killer Gary Ridgeway, who admitted to killing 48 prostitutes in the Seattle area since the 1980s, said he chose prostitutes because he knew their disappearances wouldn't be immediately noted.

In Vancouver, critics say police ambivalence toward women in the Downtown Eastside helped create the conditions for a serial killer to work unfettered for years.

But police defend their record in the neighbourhood, saying the issue of violence against women there is complex. Constable Dave Dickson, a beat cop who has worked in the Downtown Eastside for 24 years, said drug-addicted women are sitting ducks for sadists.

Constable Dickson, who is highly regarded by most street women interviewed, said the nightly attacks on women is one of the many symptoms of the drug plague, as is the city's high AIDS rate, overdose numbers and soaring property crimes. If the drug problem were fixed, he said, the violent predators would be deprived of victims.

Ms. Allan agreed that the city's out-of-control drug problem, coupled with a shortage of treatment options, has fuelled the violence. And conditions are growing worse.

One reason is the drop in drug prices, which directly affects what street workers charge for sex. Years ago, Ms. Allan said, a woman had to work all day to buy enough drugs to sustain her habit.

Women worked in groups, looked out for one another and didn't work under the influence. That's changed with cheap cocaine and heroin. Addicts now perform a trick, then go buy drugs. They get high and continue to work. Their senses are dulled and they're working alone.

She has seen men wait for a sex worker to grow increasingly sick with withdrawal so that she will lower her price. "They'll circle the block over and over watching her get more desperate," Ms. Allan said.

Alex D. from TRIBE on Utility Room