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MONTREAL — Warning: This story contains details of child sexual abuse
A Montreal man convicted of buying an eight-year-old girl in Africa and bringing her back to Canada to serve as a sex slave for three years was sentenced to a record 18 years in prison on Wednesday.
Judge Pierre Labelle handed down the sentence to Sylvain Villemaire at the Montreal courthouse. Villemaire, 60, is a former psycho-educator who specialized in helping at-risk youth.
The man travelled to Africa in 2015, where the girl’s mother agreed to send her daughter to Canada with him in exchange for money to pay for housing and drinking water. He told the girl he would give her a better life and look after her.
Instead, he kept the child as a sex slave for three years where she endured egregious abuse, sometimes at the hands of others, and sometimes after she was forcibly intoxicated. Villemaire had 8,000 images of child pornography in his possession and showed the graphic images to the girl in an attempt to normalize the abuse and ‘groom’ her.
Police discovered the girl three years later when they arrested Villemaire in an investigation for possession of child porn.
He was sentenced Wednesday on the following charges:
sexual exploitation of a minor (10 years)
human trafficking (eight years)
possession and distribution of child pornography (total of approximately three years)
Villemaire, who represented himself in court throughout the proceedings, pleaded guilty to four charges in September, but not to human trafficking or distributing child porn. Labelle found him guilty on both counts in February.
Villemaire will serve the sexual exploitation and human trafficking sentences consecutively and will serve the child porn sentences concurrently for a total of 18 years, minus three years for time already served in pre-sentencing.
He is expected to be released in about 13.5 years.
The Crown accepted the judge’s ruling and told the court it intends to file a motion to label Villemaire a long-term dangerous offender. The court will hear arguments on that motion in October.
The judge denied the defence’s request for extra credit for time served due to the conditions in jail during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The judge also barred him from using the internet and social media for 25 years and banned him in perpetuity from public places where children under 16 frequent, such as playgrounds and swimming pools.
He also is not allowed to make any contact with the victim during his sentence.
There is a publication ban on any information that identifies the victim or any of the witnesses.