'Something saved my life': One of Richard Mantha's alleged victims details escape, recovery

'Something saved my life': One of Richard Mantha's alleged victims details escape, recovery
'Something saved my life': One of Richard Mantha's alleged victims details escape, recovery

Arabnews24.ca:Wednesday 17 May 2023 10:47 AM: Just over a year ago, Avery, who was addicted to drugs and working on a sex trade stroll in Calgary's southeast, found herself running for her life across farmers' fields after she says she escaped a brutal attack by a man Calgary police have now charged with drugging and sexually assaulting five women. 

CBC News is calling the woman Avery. Her identity is protected by a publication ban. 

Avery uses a lot of numbers when she talks about her life. 

A 24-year drug addiction. Nine months sober. Three adult kids. Two loving parents thanking God they have their daughter back. 

Then there's the four other women who came forward after Avery told her story to police. 

"Finding out these other women came forward, it was empowering. It made it so that this was no longer trauma for me," says Avery. 

"It made it so that this was a piece of me that I could let go and let the courts and the lawyers and the police and everybody else worry about it."

A man called 'Poncho'

Avery is 44 years old, but her dad says she reminds him of when she was 13. 

She's bubbly and confident about her future, but to explain how she arrived at this point, she is blunt and honest about her past.

Back in April 2022, Avery was, as she calls it, "a lady of the night."

"I was prostituting myself to support my habit," she says, smoking a cigarette while sitting on a blanket in the cool grass of a northeast park.

Working the Forest Lawn stroll, as it's known, Avery came to know a man called "Poncho."

A bald man is pictured wearing a black shirt.
Police charged Richard Robert Mantha with multiple offences after several women who work in the sex trade were allegedly kidnapped, drugged and sexually assaulted. (Richard Mantha/Facebook)

She says Poncho is the man police have charged in connection with the attack on her and others. His real name is Richard Mantha. 

They had met a few times before and Avery considered them to be acquaintances. She says on April 22, 2022, when Poncho offered to pay her to help do some work at his property, she agreed. 

Once they arrived though, Avery says she was attacked, physically and sexually. 

Court records show Mantha is accused of drugging Avery, choking her and using a knife during his attack.

The escape

She says she fought back and then ran for her life.

"I crossed an entire two or three farmers' fields to get to the highway," said Avery. 

"It felt like I was being sucked down and I was fighting literally to not end up dead in that field."

Avery says she could tell she was bleeding but didn't know where it was coming from. 

Lifting the back of her tank top, Avery reveals a scar in the middle of her lower back, "I didn't know that he had stabbed me."

'Something saved my life'

As she reached the highway, Avery says a driver passing by stopped when he saw her running. Her next memory is waking up in hospital. 

Four months after she was attacked, Avery says she was ready to get sober. 

"Something saved my life and it put me in a direction that I needed to go in order to change everything," she says. 

Changing everything involves celebrating each sober day. Avery also started a support group for addicts and volunteers with a recovery centre. 

It took strength and courage for her to work with police. There's a culture of fear when it comes to asking the cops for help. 

"When you're a working girl and you're in that lifestyle, it's not easy to be able to reach out and say 'somebody hurt me' because there's a fear that people would judge and think that it was our own fault," says Avery. 

More women come forward

Mantha was charged in connection with the attack on Avery, but this past March, he missed a Strathmore court appearance and warrants were issued for his arrest.

Around the same time, Calgary police were investigating attacks on other sex trade workers. 

Over the Easter long weekend, police descended on the rural property Mantha was renting — the property where Avery says Poncho took her.

After a five-day search which included investigators from missing persons and the homicide units, CPS laid more charges against Mantha. Two more women were identified as alleged victims.

A woman whose face is angled away from the camera has a purple and green ribbon pinned to her tanktop.
Avery is one of Richard Mantha's alleged victims. She was addicted to drugs in April 2022 when Mantha is accused of confining her and attacking her. Avery has been sober for the last 9 months. She wears ribbons to symbolize support for those who suffer with addictions and mental health issues. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

Then, last week, police announced there were two more.

Now Mantha is charged with drugging and sexually assaulting five women over a 17-month period. 

He's due in court next week for a bail hearing.

Avery is hopeful that putting her own courage on display will inspire other women to seek support. 

"There's always somewhere you can go and get help," she says. 

"Nobody needs to be afraid. If somebody f**king hurts you, they don't deserve to get away with it."

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

c 1976-2021 Arab News 24 Int'l - Canada: كافة حقوق الموقع والتصميم محفوظة لـ أخبار العرب-كندا
الآراء المنشورة في هذا الموقع، لا تعبر بالضرورة علي آراء الناشرأو محرري الموقع ولكن تعبر عن رأي كاتبيها
Opinion in this site does not reflect the opinion of the Publisher/ or the Editors, but reflects the opinion of its authors.
This website is Educational and Not for Profit to inform & educate the Arab Community in Canada & USA
This Website conforms to all Canadian Laws
Copyrights infringements: The news published here are a feed from different media, if there is any concern,
please contact us: arabnews AT yahoo.com and we will remove, rectify or address the matter.