WARNING: This article contains graphic content and may affect those who have experienced sexual violence or know someone affected by it.
Four more women have joined a class-action lawsuit alleging Montreal billionaire Robert Miller regularly paid minors for sex, and one of the newest plaintiffs says she was only 11 years old during her first sexual encounter with him.
A total of 39 women have now joined the class-action lawsuit, which has not yet been authorized.
Three other individual lawsuits have also been filed, all by women who claim that Miller sexually exploited them when they were minors. The businessman denies all the allegations against him.
Affidavits from the most recent alleged victims were filed Monday by Consumer Law Group. The firm is leading the class action on behalf of women who say they were recruited when they were minors and given cash and gifts in exchange for sex with Miller between 1992 and 2016.
One of the most recent participants in the class action says she was 11 years old when she met Miller.
In her affidavit, the woman says she was recruited in 1999 by two older girls who were looking for virgins for “Bob.”
“It was summer and I had just finished Grade 6,” said the woman who, like other plaintiffs in the case, was not named in the court filings.
She said she went to Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel with her best friend, also 11, to meet Miller for the first time.
“When we got there, before entering the room, I got scared and started crying,” she said.
Raymond Poulet, who reportedly helped recruit the young women, greeted her and brought the two young girls to Miller, who offered them alcohol, the woman said.
“He asked me how old I was, and I told him I was 11,” she wrote in her affidavit. Miller than allegedly had unprotected sex with the two girls and, afterwards, handed each of them an envelope containing $5,000 in cash.
In February, when Radio-Canada’s Enquête first revealed the allegations against Miller, his lawyer said in a letter that his client has never had sexual relations with a person below the age of consent which, at the time of the alleged events, was 14.
It was bumped from 14 to 16 in 2008, under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.
Consent is void however when sexual contact with a minor is paid for and the act is considered illegal.
Robert Miller’s lawyers did not respond to questions from Enquête for this story at the time of publishing.
‘I still have nightmares’
After her initial meeting at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, the woman said she met with Miller some 30 more times, at hotels and in his Westmount homes, until she was 20.
According to her affidavit, each meeting netted her numerous gifts and an envelope containing $5,000. The billionaire also wanted to compensate her by paying for trips, “but since I was very young, it was rather complicated.”
Convinced that Miller had her best interests at heart, she even introduced him to her mother.
“I told her I’d met a gentleman who was going to help us,” she wrote. “The three of us ate together at his place, and he gave us an envelope with $10,000 in it.”
She said she found herself in a cycle that was hard to break, constantly recruiting other girls for Miller. To this day, she said she feels remorse for having introduced her own friends to “Bob” and suffers significant psychological damage due to the events.
“I had a lot of self-esteem and aggression problems,” she wrote in her affidavit. “I still have nightmares and can’t sleep well.”
When she was 11, the older girls who had recruited her also supplied her with cocaine that she would use before her meetings with Miller, she said, and she developed an addiction.
In 2009, the woman said she was approached by police.
She said investigators treated her like a pimp, rather than a victim and she was too scared to confide in the authorities.
“They tried to contact me two or three times, but eventually Bob’s lawyer talked to them and they left me alone,” she said.
Motion to freeze Miller’s assets
Last February, Enquête revealed Miller had spent years paying underage teenage girls in exchange for sex.
Since the release of the report, Miller has had several lawsuits filed against him: three individual suits, in which a total of nearly $30 million is sought, and an application for authorization of a class action, for which Consumer Law Group hopes to obtain an average of $4 million per victim.
“We expect at least 50 people to join the class action,” wrote Jeff Orenstein of Consumer Law Group in an e-mail to Radio-Canada.
“Considering the compensatory and punitive damages claims for each alleged victim, we estimate that we will need $200 million Canadian to honour a favourable judgment.”
On Monday afternoon, the lawyers heading the class-action suit took steps to freeze the billionaire’s assets in order to ensure that the alleged victims would be compensated should they win their case in court.
Lawyers have filed an application for a Mareva injunction to set aside $200 million of Miller’s fortune. The motion will be heard on Nov. 2.
“A Mareva injunction restricts a person’s ability to dispose of assets held anywhere in the world,” said Orenstein. “We ask the court to protect the members of the group from this unfair situation.”
The motion alleges, among other things, that Miller cannot be found. The bailiffs responsible for serving the class action against the billionaire have been unable to contact him and have had to go through his lawyers.
Consumer Law Group also argues that Miller and his team took numerous steps to conceal the businessman’s assets.
A few weeks after the Enquête report aired in February, Miller allegedly transferred his luxurious Westmount home, valued at $9.5 million, to a shell company run by his son for the sum of $1.
One of Miller’s lawyers also allegedly told a plaintiff with whom he wished to settle out of court that he could only offer her $72,000, as the billionaire’s money was tied up in his company.
The company in question, Future Electronics, was sold for over $5 billion in September, a transaction that is expected to be finalized in 2024. Orenstein maintains that this sum will not necessarily be deposited in a Canadian bank account, and therefore not necessarily accessible to the victims.
Orenstein says he has contacted several government agencies, including the Canadian and Quebec justice ministries as well as several members of Parliament, in hopes that regulators will force Future Electronics to deposit the proceeds of its sale in Canada.
“We believe that, if the sale of Future Electronics goes ahead without conditions or constraints, there is a risk that the plaintiffs will not receive compensation, even in the event of a favourable judgment,” he said.
Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you’re in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.