In an exclusive interview on Wednesday, Park Extension resident Jennifer Dorner told CBC's Daybreak she tried to get police to investigate the screaming, banging and noisy goings-on she heard coming from her neighbour's house, where a woman alleges she was confined and used as a sex slave for months.
But despite her pleas, Dorner says "the cycle of violence" did not stop.
This morning, Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière responded, acknowledging that police initially considered Dorner's call as a noise complaint.
"Maybe that was not accurate. Maybe that was not done the right way," he told CBC Montreal's Daybreak. "Sometimes, as police officers, we're not perfect."
Lafrenière said as a police officer and a father of two young daughters, he feels this is an important case.
He said the police force, as well as the public in general, needs to have greater sensitivity to human trafficking cases.
"When you talk about human trafficking, people think about different countries," he said. "They never think it could happen here in Montreal in their backyard."
Police meet with concerned neighbour
Following her interview on Daybreak, Dorner was contacted by police and later met with officers.
Dorner said she was relieved to discuss the events she said had traumatized her family two years ago.
Dorner initially contacted Daybreak after reading about the case of five Montreal men on trial for sex trafficking — and realizing some of the events being described in testimony are said to have taken place in the house she now owns.
"I wanted to vomit, to be honest — to hear all these things that were going on that intuitively we knew were happening," Dorner said. "We were trying to do something about it, but we...were totally helpless."
Victim held in 'hell'
Evgueni Mataev, 39, and four co-defendants are on trial on several charges in connection with holding a Missouri woman against her will, engaging in sex trafficking and sexual assault with a weapon.
The woman, identified only as Sandy, has described in court how for the last three months of her captivity, she was held in the modest two-storey Park Extension house against her will, beaten and forced to engage in prostitution and shoplift.
In her testimony, she described her life in that house as "hell."
Dorner says reading about the trial of the five men "brought back a lot of the memories and frustration of having tried to go to police and not being listened to — not being taken seriously."
Lafrenière said Dorner did the right thing by calling the police.
"To be honest she did exactly the right thing. On our side we could have responded to that differently,"