A man who “stolen the childhood” of a teenage girl by repeatedly sexually abusing her in vile ways for two years was convicted on the full line by a jury on Tuesday after seven days of deliberation. Miguel Antonio Abarzua Poblete faces a significant prison sentence.
“My heart goes out to the complainant who showed extreme courage – she is only 16 – in reporting [her attacker] and facing the justice system in a jury trial,” the district attorney insisted in an interview. Crown Me Nadine Haviernick, who teamed up with Me Hussein Hassan during the trial.
“After her testimony, she was so proud of herself. As if she realizes that she is capable of great things, ”said Mr. Haviernick. A court order protects the identity of the victim.
The jury found Miguel Antonio Abarzua Poblete guilty on all three counts: sexual assault, sexual interference, and invitation to sexual touching of a minor. Free during the trial, the 42-year-old Montrealer was imprisoned immediately after the verdict.
Courage, Victoria must have had it to entrust her ordeal in front of 12 jurors, lawyers and court staff. At the start of the trial, the teenager recounted in great detail the extremely degrading abuse suffered for two years at the hands of this trusted man of her entourage.
She was just 11 years old at the time. “My childhood was stolen from me,” the teenager had whispered.
Some assaults were particularly scabrous, including an episode of anal penetration in the garage where the accused worked. “He said to me, ‘Get up.’ He pushed me towards the table. […] It hurt. I wanted him to stop. He said I was weak. He was like, ‘It’s nothing, you’ll get used to it,'” Victoria* said.
Then, at age 12, after suffering numerous assaults, Victoria “lost her virginity” at the hands of her tormentor. An event “celebrated” by Miguel Antonio Abarzua Poblete, who then summoned the victim to keep their “secret” until “his grave”. For the next few months, Victoria was regularly assaulted by the accused, who asked her to learn several sexual “poses”.
At trial, Miguel Antonio Abarzua Poblete strongly denied having sexually assaulted the victim. Instead, he accused her of threatening to file a bogus lawsuit against him if he refused to pay for cosmetic surgery. “You have until tomorrow to give me an answer, otherwise I will ruin your life,” the complainant allegedly told him, according to the accused.
Also, Miguel Antonio Abarzua Poblete pleaded that an illness prevented him from having more than one sexual relationship per month at the time. His defense likely did not raise a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury.
In addition, the jurors were unaware that Miguel Antonio Abarzua Poblete had been accused in 2019 in another case of sexual assault on a minor. Prior to the jury trial, the Crown had attempted to have “similar fact” evidence admitted due to the overwhelming similarity between the two cases, but the judge had refused.
The Crown alleged that the two teenagers did not know each other and that the events were “so contemporaneous that they overlapped over a period of about a year and a half”. Additionally, the two teens had received “rewards” from the man in “exchange” for the sex acts.
In the 2019 case, Miguel Antonio Abarzua Poblete had however been acquitted, since the public prosecutor had not offered evidence. He then signed an “810”, a peace bond.
According to the Crown, Miguel Antonio Abarzua Poblete sexually assaulted the girl for six years. The first assault reportedly took place when she was just 10 years old in 2012. “He pulled down his pants and hers and rubbed his penis on [the complainant’s] vulva while she was on all fours” , described in the request.
Miguel Antonio Abarzua Poblete allegedly assaulted the complainant for the last time in 2019, when she was 16 years old. At the time, the teenager had “debts” to him. “Abuse has been extensive, including penetration events, at least once a week for several years,” the summary of facts relates.
On one occasion, she was allegedly assaulted in the garage where Miguel Antonio Abarzua Poblete worked. It was in this same garage that Victoria told the jury that she had suffered an extremely brutal attack when she was 11 years old.
Sentencing submissions are scheduled for the end of the month before Judge Pierre Labrie. Me Marc Labelle and Me Claudia Doyle defend the accused.