An Upper Hammonds Plains man facing human trafficking charges involving two 15-year-old girls has elected to be tried by a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge and jury.
Leeanthon Oliver, 32, made the election Wednesday, when he appeared in Halifax provincial court with lawyer Laura McCarthy.
A preliminary inquiry will be held in provincial court in September.
That hearing will determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial and will also give the defence an opportunity to test the reliability of the Crown witnesses.
Oliver remains in custody. He has not applied for bail since his arrest Feb. 23, after police received a complaint concerning a Pictou County girl Oliver allegedly met on Snapchat and then brought to the Halifax area.
Police rescued the girl and later offered assistance to another alleged victim, who’s also from northern Nova Scotia.
Oliver faces more than 20 criminal charges, including trafficking a person under the age of 18, sexual assault, sexual interference, assault, uttering threats, luring a child over the Internet, forcible confinement, procuring a person under 18 to provide sexual services, advertising sexual services and receiving material benefit from the sexual services of a person under 18 and from human trafficking.
Crown attorney Catherine Cogswell is currently prosecuting at least five human trafficking cases.
In an interview with Local Xpress in March, Cogswell said it’s important for victims of the “extremely serious and disgusting” crime to know that when they come forward, police will protect them.
“The depth of depravity of human behaviour is what human trafficking is about,” Cogswell said.
“It’s about the sexual assault of children and the selling of children, and it’s absolutely horrific.”