Published: August 18, 2021
A man who brought an eight-year-old girl from Africa to Montreal where he used her as his sex slave for more than two years was sentenced Wednesday to an overall 18-year prison term
Quebec Court Judge Pierre Labelle delivered the sentence at the Montreal courthouse. He sentenced Sylvain Villemaire, 60, for six different crimes uncovered in 2018, while the Montreal police were trying to determine who was accessing child pornography from the internet at a building in Montreal where Villemaire resided with the victim.
Labelle sentenced Villemaire to two concurrent 10-year prison terms for two offences related to the sexual abuse he inflicted on the victim. Villemaire was also sentenced to an eight-year prison term for the human trafficking of a minor that he will have to serve consecutively.
The judge also sentenced Villemaire to prison terms of between 20 months and three years for having possessed, distributed and accessed child pornography.
Included among the aggravating factors Labelle factored into the sentence was how police found more than 8,000 files containing child pornography in Villemaire’s possession. He also noted that Villemaire used the child porn “to groom the victim.”
He also listed the “victim’s total dependence on the offender once in the country, which facilitated control” over the girl as another aggravating factor.
Last September, Villemaire pleaded guilty to four of the charges he faced. But he insisted on having a trial on the human trafficking charge as well as the charge that he distributed child pornography. Labelle found him guilty on both of those counts in February. Villemaire acted as his own lawyer throughout the trial.
A conviction for the human trafficking of a minor comes with a mandatory minimum five-year sentence.
“To this minimum sentence of five years, we must add the relative weight of the many aggravating factors (in Villemaire’s case). They are severe and have serious consequences for the victim,” Labelle said as he read from his 25-page decision. “Despite the nightmarish nature of this story, one can unfortunately imagine scenarios with more aggravating factors than those present here. I believe that an additional period of three years should be added to the minimum sentence.”
With time served factored into the sentence Villemaire was left with a little more than 13 years as of Tuesday. But that might change in the near future as prosecutor Amélie Rivard has asked that Villemaire be declared a dangerous or long-term offender. Labelle will hear arguments on the matter in October.
In July, Rivard asked for the 18-year sentence while arguing that “Canada’s reputation is at stake here.”
While delivering the sentence, Labelle said Villemaire still represents a risk of reoffending because it appears he is still attracted to children. He also noted that the girl now feels betrayed by her mother and is essentially an orphan. According to his decision to convict Villemaire in February, “money was sent to the mother (of the victim) that was clearly linked to her arrival in Canada.”
The girl also told police that her mother told her to submit to Villemaire’s demands. Villemaire married the girl’s mother in Africa, but she was unable to move to Canada.
After he brought the girl to Montreal, Villemaire had her sign a “contract” that called for her to obey him and to do whatever he told her to do.
“The documents seized (from Villemaire’s home) clearly demonstrate the offender’s intentions toward the victim as he planned to return to the (Canada). In targeting the victim, the offender used her socio-economic status in order to entice her mother into (agreeing to what she thought was) a better life for her daughter by taking her out of a very disadvantaged living environment,” Labelle said. “Also, there is the period of time when the offender maintained complete control over the victim.”
The girl ended up living with Villemaire for a period of 32 months — between 2015 and 2018 — until the Montreal police discovered what was happening.