Simard goes public with story of sex abuse

Former Quebec child star Natalie Simard has broken 25 years of silence with a TV interview detailing a harrowing story of sexual abuse.

Former child star Nathalie Simard has broken twenty-five years of public silence with a harrowing story of sexual abuse at the hands of her former mentor.

In a television interview on Thursday, the Quebec singer told how her abuser, entertainment mogul Guy Cloutier, first raped her when she was eleven years old.

The abuse continued for seven years. Cloutier is currently serving a 3½-years prison sentence for the assaults on Simard and another child.

Simard, who is suing Cloutier for $1.2 million in civil court, told French-language network TVA: "I don't think there is a sentence that will give me back my childhood."

From the beginning, Cloutier, who also managed her brother René, said lives would be destroyed if he were to be exposed, Simard recounted.

"He took me by the throat once and said, 'you belong to me.'"

Simard said she was dependent on the entertainment giant. But she insisted she never sought money – she received a total of $1.3 million in monthly payments and a farm, before criminal charges were laid – from Cloutier in return for her silence.

Cloutier established Nathalie's career, and that of her brother René. Nathalie said that at one time, she was even in love with him.

"I am ashamed of that, but I understand it now. It was disgusting what he did to me ... I thought he was in love with me."

She also argued that speaking out led to justice – in her case Cloutier's imprisonment.

Without her evidence, Simard said she doubted Cloutier would have been convicted. "He would have destroyed me."

She said she was proud of her part in seeing that justice was done and encouraged victims of abuse to trust in the courts and break their silence.

She also called on parents to wake up to the reality that their children too might be keeping a secret.

TVA donated $100,000 to a foundation Simard established to fight sexual abuse. Simard says she has engaged a writer to work with her on her autobiography.