By AARON BESWICK Local Xpress
She saw a name from her past on a link to a news story that appeared on her Facebook feed.
“I thought I was the only young girl this happened to,” said the woman, whom the Local Xpress is not identifying as she is the victim of alleged sexual abuse.
“Never in a million years did I think this was an ongoing thing.”
Todd Allen Sawler of Nine Mile River, East Hants, was charged Jan. 26 with two counts of child luring and one count of making sexually explicit material available to a child. RCMP allege the paramedic, 44, was posing as a 15-year-old online while sending inappropriate messages to two girls, 11 and 12.
After seeing an article about Sawler’s arrest, subsequent appearance in Halifax provincial court and release from custody pending his March 21 appearance for election and plea, the woman came forward to share her story of alleged involvement with Sawler.
Her allegations haven’t been proven in court but are part of an expanded RCMP investigation of Sawler. A member of the RCMP’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit confirmed to the Local Xpress that the woman’s complaint was one of “several calls received from the public” about Sawler.
When contacted by phone on Monday and asked whether the allegations were true, Sawler said “No.” He then directed any further calls to his lawyer, Patrick Eagan.
‘I was young and naive’
The woman, now 32, grew up in a rural Lunenburg County community.
“I had a great upbringing,” said the woman.
“We had a beautiful home, I had good parents. … I was just a bad apple.”
The woman claims that at 12 years of age, she started going for drives with Sawler, then 24.
“He would get me to call him after my parents went to bed, and I would sneak up the street and he would pick me up in his car,” said the woman.
“I knew he liked me. He was kind of like my boyfriend. … I was young and naive. He obviously knew something was wrong.”
She says they had sex multiple times over the two years that their alleged involvement lasted.
It ended when, at 14, she began having panic attacks and was hospitalized for severe panic and anxiety disorder, she said.
“I attribute most of it to the relationship, though some of my anxiety could be genetic,” said the woman.
“But after a while (thinking about the relationship) makes you feel gross.”
Issues of self-worth and anxiety would plague her teenage years.
After leaving the hospital, she got in trouble with the law.
“I had a lengthy (youth) record,” the woman said. “Theft and fraud — a lot of stuff.”
“It seemed like my life just spiralled downhill. … I was looking for stuff in the wrong places.”
It wasn’t until her mid-20s that she found the self-respect she was seeking.
“It was when I met my husband and he made me feel that what happened in the past doesn’t matter,” said the woman.
“You are who you are now, and that is what matters.”
The woman said she’s sharing her story to encourage other sexual assault victims to come forward rather than brood and suffer about the past.