Crown Drops Charges, Businessman Is Free

Pizzeria owner's name was dragged to through the mud

By: Kim Lunman

Crown drops charges, businessman is free


Click Here To View Original Article

A pizza parlor owner held out by police as "trick pad" operator for teen prostitutes walked away from a Calgary courtroom a free man Thursday.

Minutes earlier, the lone charge laid in the highly-publicized bust last December had been dropped by the Crown.

But that was only after Badley Singh Sangra's "name was dragged through the mud from here to India," his lawyer, David Yanko told the reporters.

The 34-year-old businessman, whose pizzeria has since been shut down by the city, is considering a civil lawsuit of unlawful confinement was withdrawn in provincial court.

"I'm very happy, "Sangra said later, adding: "It has been very painful. It hurt my business and myself."

He was arrested after police raided a basement last December under Sangra's now-defunct take-out restaurant on Macleod Trail and found an 18-year-old girl in a locked room littered with used condoms and empty liquor bottles.

Crown prosecutor Ian Kirkpatrick said in an interview the charge was withdrawn because of insufficient evidence.

"There's no evidence of any intent to confine this girl against her will," he said. "The investigators were asked if they had any further evidence and they couldn't provide it."

City police defended the investigation, which made international headlines, drawing attention to "trick pads" in Calgary – where young prostitutes are allegedly held captive for assembly-line sex with up to 40 johns a night.

"We thought we had a case sufficient to go to trial," said Sgt. Ross MacInnes, head of the vice unit. "We went on the strength of the one charge."

Police were called to a based underneath the building at 1223 Macleod Tr. Last December 28 at 3:30 a.m. by a 15-year-old prostitute who claimed she had been raped. They raided the basement, where they knocked down the locked door and found an 18-year-old girl on bed.

MacInnes said the police decided not to lay a charge of sexual assault connected to the raid because: "It was in her best interests not to proceed with the charge… Sometimes we don't proceed with charges because it's best for girls to get on with other things in their lives."

Yanko said news reports about the raid across North American and even in Sangra's native India were the result of "hysteria."

"This was a dump of a basement where some of these street people hung out. It was not any trick pad dominated by any kind of hierarcy."

He said the basement was accessible to several other businesses – including a massage parlor – with door leading to the back alley.

MacInnes, recently profiled in the Washington Post for his crusade against child prostitution in Calgary, dismissed charges of media hype.

"Child prostitution in this town, and in this country, is an issue," he said. "We don't hype it. What we do is we tell it like it is."

Last September, city police revealed girls as young as 11 were working under death threats in child prostitution rings unique to Calgary. Some 109 local girls between the ages of 11 and 15 were identified as working in trick pads.

City aldermen upheld a decision to close Ally's Pizza after Sangra's business licence was revoked following the raid.

Yanko said Sangra was unfairly convicted by council.

"The impression that was left of him was that of a sleazy trick pad operator, which was not true."

"We were not deciding whether his man was guilty or innocent," said Ald. Rick Smith, chairman of the city's licence appeal board.

"What was before us, was whether or not this individual was fit to hold a business licence in respect of a takeout food business."

However, in the light of the charge being withdrawn, Smith said Sangra could reapply for his business licence.


Back ↵