‘I just hate it’: Child abuse victim speaks out about sentence


Sabrina-Riki Moreau’s first childhood memory isn’t a boisterous kids’ birthday party or a trip to the zoo. Rather, the scene forever embedded in the young woman’s mind involves a dark basement and an encounter with her grandfather that began a decade of sexual abuse.

Moreau’s Cummings Avenue brick rowhouse was linked to her grandparents’ home by its backyard. Her mother, a single, working parent entrusted the grandparents to care for her kids.

Moreau remembers being four years old and having dinner with her brother at her grandparents’ home almost every night. They had their own rooms there and her grandfather would put her to bed every night, she says. And every night, there was abuse.

Richard H. Glarvin pleaded guilty to sexual assault and sexual interference last September for the abuse that occurred between 1995 to 2005. A snapshot provided in the statement of facts showed how he turned a position of trust into an opportunity to prey.

“The incidents happened at the victim’s residence, at the accused’s residence, in the accused’s vehicle when he would pick her up from extra curricular activities, outside in the backyard, and anywhere and time the accused had an opportunity to be with the victim.”

On Feb. 1, Glarvin was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison.

That’s hardly justice, in Moreau’s mind.

“This guy admitted to doing this to me for 10 years. Why are you not giving him 10 years?” the 24-year-old asks.

Since the sentencing, she has had the publication ban on her name lifted to encourage other victims to come forward.

“I know now in my heart that if I can gone to the police when I was 4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14 years old, they wouldn’t have called him after I went to the police two months later, they would have gone to his house with the sirens on and they would have cuffed him.”

Glarvin’s defence lawyer, Rodney Sellar, asked Justice Ann Alder that his client be sentenced to four years, while the Crown requested a five- to seven-year prison term. Moreau fears her grandfather, now deemed a pedophile, could potentially serve as little as a third of his sentence and qualify for day parole.

The defence attorney said the the fact his client pleaded guilty, in addition to the fact he has dementia and a psychiatrist has deemed him a low risk to re-offend, were mitigating factors.

“The victims obviously have different concerns, but the judge has to balance all the interests and I think she did it very well,” said Sellar. On the possibility of being granted parole, he said that may be an “optimistic view.”

“It’s much more difficult to obtain parole than it used to be,” he said.

That’s cold comfort for Moreau, who feels the justice system is “flawed” and fails victims.

“So I have to call the parole board if I want to be updated (on whether he is) eligible … just like this whole process, that’s another time where I have to tell somebody his name. … Just me saying his name, I get the chills. I just hate it. And it’s another time I have to call someone and say ‘Hey, I was sexually abused by this person.'”

Heidi Illingworth, executive director at Connecting Ottawa, a victims advocacy group, said that if the case had been tried in the United States, he may have received up to a life sentence. But in Canada, where judges rely on previous case law, sentences are shorter.

“It sort of feels like a slap in the face (for victims) when you go to court and you go through all the difficulty with telling your story publicly,” said Illingworth. “They can often feel negative if they are not satisfied with the sentence and that can often be a set-back from trying to move forward with what’s happened to you”

At 14 years of age, Moreau said, she had the confidence to tell her grandfather to stop the abuse, but by then the damage was done.

She couldn’t concentrate in high school and became suicidal. After confronting him five years later, he admitted to having nightmares the abuse.

She then told her mother and he admitted to her what he had done.

As Moreau continued to suffer the effects of her abuse, she decided to report the incidents to police in 2014 and Glarvin soon turned himself in. He told the detective he, too, was molested as a child. He said he hadn’t hurt any other children and needed medical help.

In Moreau’s lengthy victim-impact statement she titled each sentence with a succinct single word: Shame, Insecurity, Anxiety, Anger, Depression, Trust.

Moreau has spent thousands on therapy and lost the relationship with her grandmother, who stuck by her husband’s side.

“I stopped believing in God at a very young age. How could I pray to and believe in someone who let this happen to me. What did I do at such a young age to deserve that?”

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