Victim of gang sex assault at Toronto bar 'lives with permanent damage,' mother says
TORONTO -- A 24-year-old woman who was drugged and sexually assaulted by two men at a downtown Toronto bar three years ago lives with “permanent damage” and has subsequently “not been the same person for a long time,” her mother told a courtroom through tears on Wednesday morning.
The victim’s mother read an emotional victim impact statement as the sentencing hearing began for Gavin MacMillan and Enzo DeJesus Carrasco.
At the end of November 2019, 11 jurors found the two men guilty of gang sexual assault and administering a stupefying substance in connection with an hours-long incident that took place inside College Street Bar in December 2016.
MacMillan was an owner of the former Little Italy bar and DeJesus Carrasco was a manager.
Both men had pleaded not guilty to all charges laid against them.
The trial for the two men consisted of weeks of cross-examination by the defence and the Crown, numerous testimonies, as well as the review of several hours of security footage from inside the establishment.
The jury then deliberated for four days before the verdict was reached.
‘Horrible nightmares over and over again’
The victim, who is a fashion photographer, was visiting Toronto for a work event at the time and went to the bar to meet a friend who worked there, the court heard during the trial. Her identity is protected under a publication ban.
On Wednesday morning, her mother stood before the court and read her statement, noting that her daughter did not have it in her to do the same.
“Did you stop to think what if this was your daughter, your mother, your sister, your niece, your grandmother or even your friend,” she asked. “My daughter was such a happy, trusting, creative individual and it was all taken away from her.”
“Imagine your loved one having to live with permanent damage.”
She went on to say that her daughter continues to have “horrible nightmares over and over again” that cause her to “wake up screaming.”
“She would flinch if I tried to comfort her and hug her, and she still does often times.”
There is not a day that goes by where her daughter does not think about what happened that night, her mother said.
“My daughter was not the same person for a long time… she didn’t want to burden anyone… didn’t want us to worry about her… didn’t want us to know what she was going through or how much she was hurting,” she said.
“She doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for her, she just wants to feel normal and be treated normal.”
Defence requests judge declare mistrial
It should be noted that MacMillan is seeking to have his conviction overturned in light of a new ruling on jury selection by Ontario’s top court. He filed an appeal on Jan. 23, which cited the Court of Appeal for Ontario ruling released the same day.
On Wednesday, the sentencing hearing began with the defence requesting the judge declare a mistrial on the grounds that the jury in the trial was improperly selected, but the request was denied.
The Crown, who called the assault “invasive” and “degrading," is seeking a 12 year sentence for each of the men – nine years for gang sexual assault and three years consecutive for administering a stupefying substance.
The defence is asking for a sentence of 12 to 24 months.
The maximum sentence for convictions of gang sexual assault is 14 years and the maximum for administering a stupefying substance is life in prison.
The hearing will resume on Feb.12.