Warning: This story contains graphic information about the sexual assault of a child.
A 60-year-old Montreal man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for bringing an 8-year-old girl from the Ivory Coast to Canada and subjecting her to three years of horrific sexual abuse.
On Wednesday Quebec Court Judge Pierre Labelle sentenced Sylvain Villemaire, who worked for decades as a high school “psychoeducator,” to 10 years for sexual exploitation of a minor, eight years for human trafficking, and around three years for possession and distribution of child pornography. According to CTV News, Villemaire will serve the child porn sentence concurrently.
Villemaire brought the girl, who cannot be identified under a publication ban, from the Ivory Coast to Montreal in 2015. According to court documents obtained by VICE World News, Villemaire—identified as S.V.—told the girl’s mother he wanted her to have a good education. Days after she landed on Canadian soil, the documents say, “her life turned into a nightmare.”
The court documents say S.V. sexually assaulted the girl an average of three to four times a week, and ordered her to penetrate him with sex toys and perform sex acts on a woman he was having sex with at the time. These attacks continued on her “with regularity” until Villemaire was arrested in 2018.
S.V. also tried to control the girl, the court documents say. He made her sign a contract saying she accepted that S.V. was her “tutor” and could do whatever he wanted to her. The contract promised that she would “never tell anyone, in any way” about the abuse Villemaire was inflicting on her.
According to the court documents, S.V. was caught through a child sex abuse investigation by the Montreal police after an investigator traced the transfer of child sexual abuse material to an apartment in Montreal’s Rosemont-LaPetite-Patrie borough. Officers who raided the apartment arrested Villemaire and ran into the girl as she was leaving for school.
“A child entered here to study and was used as a sex slave for three years,” Crown prosecutor Amélie Rivard told the court during Villemaire’s trial, according to the Montreal Gazette. “I would say these actions have to be strongly sentenced.”
Villemaire’s sentence is harsh by Canadian standards. According to La Presse, an 18-year prison sentence has never been handed down in Quebec for sexual crimes against a child, although stiffer sentences have been imposed in other Canadian provinces. In 2019, an Alberta judge sentenced a man to 23 years in prison for sexually assaulting his three teenage daughters at a paramilitary compound in Wildwood.
After including three years of credit for time already served in jail during his trial, Villemaire can expect to be released in about 13.5 years. The judge shot down a request from Villemaire’s defence team for extra credit on his sentence due to conditions in jail during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On top of the prison time, CTV News reported that Villemaire has been banned from using the internet and social media for 25 years. He is also banned in perpetuity from public spaces where children under the age of 16 may be present.
The Crown said it would soon file a motion asking for Villemaire to be labelled a dangerous offender, a status that will make it difficult for him to be approved for parole.
Follow Brennan Doherty on Twitter.