A former sex-worker who made a “good faith” plea for police help and was eventually convicted of trafficking a 15-year-old girl has died.
A jury in Toronto found Michelle Marie Warkentin guilty of trafficking, possession and trafficking in persons.
She had faced up to life in prison.
A judge also suspended Warken, but she was released on bail.
Warkin, who had been working as a prostitute in Ontario, pleaded guilty to trafficking in person on Sept. 26, 2014, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the offence.
In January, she was transferred to a Toronto jail.
Wartentin’s case drew widespread attention because she was a victim of sex trafficking and faced a lengthy jail sentence for a sex offence that was not sexual.
WARKEN, now 42, told police she was lured into prostitution by a “nice, older male” and was forced to have sex with him in the back seat of his truck.
WARTEN, who told police the men drove her to a “safe house” in Brampton, Ont., pleaded guilty and was given a three-year sentence.
A friend of Warkens mother, whose family was in Bramford, was also convicted of sexual exploitation and sentenced to four years in jail.
The Toronto District School Board said in a statement it was “deeply saddened” to learn of Warten’s death.
“Michelle was a bright, intelligent and dedicated young woman who was a valued member of our staff and students,” the statement said.
“We mourn her loss.”
The Ontario Court of Appeal last year upheld the sexual exploitation conviction, but the Ontario Superior Court of Justice overturned that decision in June and reinstated the conviction.
WARDEN, an Ontario native, is survived by her husband and four children.
Her mother, Susan, said she was saddened by the news.
“I’m so sorry for the family and friends of Michelle, especially those who knew her well,” she said.