Woman pleads guilty to assaulting anti-abortion protesters at Ryerson University
A Toronto woman has pleaded guilty to assaulting two anti-abortion protesters at Ryerson University last fall.
Gabriela Skwarko, 23, admitted she was responsible for attacking the two protesters on campus October 1.
Katie Somers and Blaise Allyene are activists with a group called Toronto Against Abortion. They were holding signs at Ryerson University, engaging in what the Crown attorney described as a peaceful protest.
At one point, there were approached by Skwarko, a Ryerson student.
Skwarko was seen on video knocking down signs and shoving Somers, who suffered bruises.
Skwarko is seen picking up a dolly that held the signs and throwing it in their direction. Skwarko reaches into Somers’ backpack and smashes an object on the ground while pushing her.
At the time, Skwarko was a member of the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective, an abortion rights advocacy group.
In court, Skwarko apologized for her actions, saying she had let down her family. Her parents, her brother and uncle were in court.
“I’m glad Gabby is pleading guilty and taking responsibility for her actions and I hope the ruling will be a sufficient deterrent,” said Somers, who said she accepted Skwarko’s apology.
“I thanked her, it meant a lot to hear her express remorse for what she did,” Somers said.
Somers told the court in a victim impact statement that she has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident. She said her family no longer wants her to attend demonstrations out of concern for her safety.
In a joint submission to court, the Crown and defence counsel recommended Skwarko receive a conditional discharge and 18 months’ probation. The judge said he would accept the recommendation. He will pronounce the sentence on May 10.
After charges were laid last year, Skwarko was suspended from Ryerson for one year and lost her job with the university.
With files from Ryan Rocca and Farhnaz Fazli
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