Edmonton police have arrested a man in his 50s, for allegedly exploiting a teenaged girl, by giving her money and marijuana, in exchange for sex.

Police said back in November, 2012, the VICE Section received a tip from the Youth Unit that a 16-year-old girl had been sexually exploited.

It’s believed it had started in February 2012, in the area of 96 Street and 118 Avenue.

Investigators said it had been reported that the girl had been given marijuana, or was paid cash by the male suspect, in exchange for sex.

Police arrested the man on a number of charges Thursday.

Mark James Shannon, 54, is facing a number of charges including two counts of procuring a youth for sex, trafficking a controlled substance, possession for the purpose of trafficking and the proceeds of crime.

“It’s fair to say that this investigation probably wouldn’t have had the steam behind it without the brave actions of that youth to first make the admissions to our youth unit worker and then work with us to eventually get the arrest,” Staff Sgt. Jerry Nash with the EPS VICE Section said.

An officer with the newly-formed Youth Unit said the alleged victim hadn’t had many encounters with police before she came forward with her story.

“This specific girl I’d actually had no dealings with prior, I was approached by her social worker, who introduced me to her, and we just spoke from there and that’s what led to this investigation,” Const. Lawrence Avery said.

Avery said his unit is tasked with gaining the trust of at-risk youth in the city, and working with them to stop the cycle of crime.

“A lot of these young people have had very negative experiences with police, if they don’t trust you they won’t speak to you at all,” Avery said. “That’s just their lifestyle; they won’t have anything to do with us unless we work at developing some of that trust with them.”

Avery said the unit includes a team of social workers, probation officers and police officers.

CTV News caught up with the accused in this case Monday, he denied the allegations, and claimed he lent the alleged victim $5 for food, and she allegedly offered to ‘come by later’.

Shannon’s first court appearance has been scheduled for March 25.

With files from David Ewasuk