WARNING: The content in this article may be disturbing to some readers.
A Quebec woman who was sexually assaulted as a teenager nearly three decades ago is speaking out after her abuser was recently found and sentenced to eight years in prison.
The now-43-year-old survivor hopes to help others share their stories and seek justice. Amy, which is a pseudonym as Global News cannot reveal her name because of a publication ban, is also fighting for tougher sentences for repeat offenders of sexual assault.
Amy’s life changed the night of Aug. 17, 1995. After her mother and little brothers went to bed, the 15-year-old snuck out of the house for the first time to meet up with friends on Montreal’s south shore.
She was cycling along a bike path in a park in St-Hubert when she passed by a man, later identified as Louis Junior Poirier. They locked eyes briefly and Amy had a “bad feeling immediately.”
Amy figured the man was headed elsewhere, but she picked up speed. There were no lights on the bike path and she heard something behind her. He hooked her with his arm, but Amy kicked and he fell off his bike. She knew she was in imminent danger.
The teen screamed at the top of her lungs and pedalled “like a maniac.” Amy described being hooked from behind again, with the man grabbing both their bikes and dragging them into the wooded area under the cover of darkness.
“This time he got me,” Amy said. “It’s like he’s hunting. He’s out hunting and I was the prey.”
Amy tried to reason with her aggressor, telling him he didn’t have to do this. But he told her to shut up and threatened to kill her as he proceeded to rape her.
The time in the woods seemed like forever to Amy. She remembers the sounds of nearby cyclists in the summer night, who were so close but didn’t know was happening. She told the judge in her court case that she felt a burning sensation, as if she were being “ripped apart.”
Amy was worried she would die.
“It’s funny I prayed that night for him not to kill me, but every day after I prayed, ‘Why can’t you just come and get me and take me away? Why didn’t he kill me instead?’” she said.
When the assault ended, her rapist ordered Amy not to move and he left. In shock, she made her way to a nearby road with her clothes in her hands. After screaming she had been raped, a woman followed a distraught Amy to a friend’s house. The friend’s parents covered her in a blanket and called the police.
What happened afterwards was a blur. Amy remembers waking her mom, who rocked her as she cried and shook. She remembers police at her home and being taken to a children’s hospital.
The room was so cold. She donned a hospital gown as health-care workers examined her and performed a rape kit. They scraped under her finger nails, checked between her legs.
“It was really hard,” Amy said.
‘It killed me, but I wasn’t dead’
Before that night, Amy was thriving. She was an honour roll student, had joined cadets and helped her single mom with her little brothers. She had also started modelling, which she could no longer do. After the assault, her mental health spiralled.
“It killed me, but I wasn’t dead,” Amy said.
Amy became suicidal and dropped out of school after rumours surfaced about her assault. She lost all of her friends and slashed the walls in her bedroom.
That night changed the course of Amy’s life and it hung over their family. Her mom lost her job because she couldn’t leave Amy home alone.
“It didn’t just break me. It broke the whole unit, the whole family unit,” Amy said. “Everything that I was, I was no more after.”
She harmed herself to the point that her mother — also a survivor of sexual assault — was at a loss. Carol, which is a pseudonym since Global News cannot identify her, placed her daughter in a group home for seven months.
“It was hard. She was only a little girl and I had to turn around and say, ‘I can’t take care of you with this, I don’t know what to do.’ And a parent always knows what to do, but I didn’t know what to do,” Carol said.
At 43, Amy still lives with the effects of the assault. Her mental well-being is fragile and she lost custody of her children. She has a hard time developing relationships and trusting men. She says she has a few friends.
Amy suffers from complex post-traumatic stress disorder and attends therapy on a regular basis. She has spent time in hospital emergency rooms and psychiatry departments, including after watching her rapist plead guilty.
A break in the cold case
At the beginning, Amy held onto the hope that a call would come from police. But as the years passed, her case went cold.
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It took nearly 25 years before Amy’s case was reopened. In 2018, she saw a news report about an alleged sexual assault suspect, and she contacted police thinking there could be a connection to her own case.
There was no connection to her own unsolved assault, but Amy’s case was reopened.
There was a breakthrough and a pair of detectives told her they found her rapist. Amy and Carol broke into sobs, hugging each other as the news washed over them.
“I didn’t really think at that point it was ever going to happen,” Amy said, describing the moment as surreal.
Due to advances in technology and with the help of her rape kit from 1995, technicians were able to find and identify her rapist through a national DNA database.
“And that was only because after me, there was other victims,” Amy said.
Longueuil police arrested Louis Junior Poirier in December 2020. He had been in jail twice, once for involuntary manslaughter and a second time for sexually assaulting two women.
After his arrest in Amy’s case, he was released with conditions. Amy was petrified, worried that he could find her or harm someone else during that time. She faced her aggressor in court, detailing how her life had changed after the assault.
Amy says Poirier wouldn’t look at her, but read an apology letter she felt was insincere. In October 2023, Poirier was finally sentenced to eight years in prison, based on when the crime was committed.
For Amy, the sentence isn’t enough. She lives with the fear that she is not safe or that her rapist will re-offend.
“I only have eight years to live. I don’t know if I’m going to make it after eight,” Amy said. “Because when he comes out, I don’t think I’m going to want to be around for that.”
Her mother is relieved that Poirier is behind bars, but the sentence isn’t long enough in contrast with Amy having to face what happened to her for a lifetime. It makes Carol feel like it’s still not over.
What she wants for Amy, above all, is to find happiness. Her daughter is caring and compassionate. Carol remembers Amy heading to downtown Montreal, simply to buy hamburgers to feed the homeless.
“That one night ruined a lot of her spirit. But her spirit is still there,” Carol said.
Amy is now on a mission now is to lobby the federal government to change laws surrounding sentences for repeat offenders. She hopes telling her story will help other survivors come forward and do the same.
“Don’t be scared, come with me, together we’re stronger and the more we talk — the less comfortable these people will be to do what they do,” she said.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, support is available: