The victim of a former Guelph art instructor, who has been sentenced to 90 days in prison after pleading guilty to sexual exploitation, says the outcome is underwhelming.
Speaking to Pablo Suarez in court on Thursday, the teenager told him what he did will leave a scar for the rest of her life.
“While the situation will be dealt with, I’m still going to have to deal with the effects of what you did to my mental health for probably forever,” she said in her victim impact statement.
Her identity is protected under a publication ban.
Suarez, the former owner of Pablo’s World of Cartoons on Cardigan Street, pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation on Jan. 22. All other charges were dropped.
Court heard the 49-year-old met the teenager through his art program and talked her into modelling for him. During their first and only private session last winter, Suarez kissed her twice.
The young victim eventually told her parents and Suarez was arrested in March 2019.
“You had the potential to be such an amazing mentor and change people’s lives in such a positive way, but instead you decided to throw your life away and try and destroy someone else’s and that’s something I really don’t understand,” the teen told court.
Suarez, who owned and operated the art program for 11 years, also faces 18 months of probation. He is prohibited from any unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 16.
He must also attend counselling, submit a DNA sample and be registered as a sex offender for 10 years.
Speaking to Justice John Lynch and facing away from the victim and her family, Suarez said he was truly sorry.
“I apologize to the people I hurt,” he said quietly.
In her own victim statement, the victim’s mother said Suarez had a gift to help people see who they really are.
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“We needed you, Pablo,” she said to Suarez as he looked down into his hands. “We needed you to breathe encouragement into our children in a way we couldn’t and because of your horrific decision, we are left with a gaping hole.”
The victim’s mother told reporters afterwards there has been a lot of crying and pain. She said she may forgive Suarez, but how her daughter feels is more important.
“I hope I can inspire her to free herself by forgiving him and eventually being able to move on, which will never absolve her of having to live with it,” she said.
She also urged parents to always believe their kids because when they come forward, they have nothing to gain.
“Young girls, but young boys as well, anyone — they deserve to be believed.”