Skip to content

Woman who trusted spiritual healer afraid to report alleged sexual abuse

By Keith Lacey A Sudbury woman testified a man she believed to be a native "medicine man," teacher and spiritual healer sexually abused her repeatedly between July of 2000 and last May.
By Keith Lacey

A Sudbury woman testified a man she believed to be a native "medicine man," teacher and spiritual healer sexually abused her repeatedly between July of 2000 and last May.

Garth Percy Mousseau, 51, pleaded not guilty Monday to four counts of sexual assault, three counts of failing to adhere to a probation order to not practise traditional native medicine and several counts of breaching court orders to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

The complainant, now age 39, said she was introduced to Mousseau through a mutual friend. She came to believe Mousseau was a respected elder with years of experience in native medicine, customs and spiritual healing.

The woman, who has serious medical problems, also believed Mousseau's wife was knowledgeable in native healing and medicine.

Justice Ian MacMillan of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ordered a ban on publication of any evidence which could lead to the identity of the complainant.

The woman testified over the past few years learning more about her native culture became extremely important to her and her husband.

"I was looking for some teach me my (native) ways" when she was introduced to Mousseau in May 2000, she said.

After a few meetings with Mousseau and his wife "I felt good, I felt in balance again" and she believed Mousseau could help her deal with emotional problems from her childhood because she was a victim of childhood sexual abuse, she said.

After meeting Mousseau, she "believed him to be an elder, a medicine man, a teacher."

Within weeks of meeting him, she and her husband needed a place to stay and moved in with Mousseau, his wife and family on their Burwash farm, she said.

Only days after moving in, she told Mousseau about a severe physical injury which continually bothered her and caused her pain.

Her partner wasn't there, so Mousseau grabbed her legs one night in July 2000 and massaged her on her legs and hips which made her feel uncomfortable, she said.

Mousseau proceeded to rub his hands near her underwear, but she let him know she felt uncomfortable and he stopped, she said.

A similar incident happened a few nights later when Mousseau used "bear grease," which is considered a key ingredient in traditional native medicine, and proceeded to rub her injured leg and "tried to get into my underwear...I felt very uncomfortable because I didn't understand what was happening...he was touching me and I didn't understand why."

The incidents only escalated from there, she said.

One night, with several children inside Mousseau's home, she was sitting in the living room when Mousseau sat beside her and sexually assaulted her with his hand under a blanket, she said.

There were children present and she urged him to stop and he told her "we'll finish it later", she testified.

Later that night with all the children asleep, she was watching television when Mousseau approached her and had sex with her without consent, she said.

When assistant Crown attorney Marc Huneault asked her if she wanted any sexual contact with Mousseau, she replied "no sir."

She "tried to pretend he wasn't body was there, but I wasn't. I don't know how to explain that," she said.

Asked how she felt after the incident, the woman replied "confused, angry, hurt, scared."

Mousseau started coming over to her home in Sudbury and the sexual abuse continued and resulted in sexual intercourse against her will on two occasions, she testified.

She never told anyone about the abuse because she couldn't believe what was happening to her from a man she originally respected and trusted, she said.

"I was taught to respect my elders and not to question them," she said.

She didn't tell Mousseau's wife because she didn?t feel his wife would believe her.

Mousseau told her to not say anything about what happened between them and she didn't tell her partner because he's extremely protective. She felt he might react violently against any abuser, she said.

"I didn't want him to go to prison," she said.

She never talked to Mousseau about the attacks, she said.

"I just wanted to forget it happened," she said.

These sexual assaults have devastated her, she said.

She's on anti-depressants, scared to study certain parts of native culture and no longer trusts "medicine men and elders."

Defence counsel Terry Waltenbury painstakingly took the woman through each and every allegation late Monday and into Tuesday.

When Waltenbury suggested the woman could have cried out for help, told her husband or contacted the police, she agreed she could have, but didn't out of fear.

When Waltenbury asked why the woman would continually allow a man she says was repeatedly sexually abusing her to keep coming to her home, she repeated she didn't tell her husband or police because she was afraid they wouldn't believe her. She agreed she should have been more vocal and told someone, but reiterated she did tell Mousseau to stop the abuse.