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Ex-Quebec firefighter Kenneth Marlin sentenced to 14 years for molesting kids on farm

Kenneth Marlin, 66, was found guilty on Jan. 20, 2023, of sexually abusing five boys on his family's farm between 1980 and 1991. On Thursday, a Quebec judge sentenced him to 14 years behind bars. (Source: Surete du Quebec) Kenneth Marlin, 66, was found guilty on Jan. 20, 2023, of sexually abusing five boys on his family's farm between 1980 and 1991. On Thursday, a Quebec judge sentenced him to 14 years behind bars. (Source: Surete du Quebec)
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Warning: This story contains details of sexual assault and suicidal ideation.

For several years, children would come to the Marlin family farm in southern Quebec to live there in foster care or to do chores like feeding the cows and loading bales of hay.

But some of those kids, some as young as seven years old, were also repeatedly sexually assaulted on the farm by the man they looked up to the most — Kenneth Marlin.

On Thursday, Quebec Court Justice Joey Dubois sentenced Marlin to 14 years in prison for abusing five children over the span of a decade on his parents' farm in Hemmingford, Que., a small rural town about 65 kilometres south of Montreal by the U.S. border.

Some of the abuse happened year-round, whereas for other children it was during the summer months when they spent time on the farm. But in each case, "He abused these children for his own sexual pleasure," the judge wrote in his judgment on Thursday. 

"The accused would abuse each victim whenever and wherever he could."

Marlin was a volunteer firefighter in Hemmingford from 1987 to 2020. He denied the accusations, but after hearing evidence from the five complainants, the judge found him guilty earlier this year on all 20 charges, including sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, and sexual assault. 

The five children were between the ages of seven and 15 and two of them were sent to live with Marlin or his parents by social services. Marlin, now 66, was between the ages of 23 and 34 at the time of the abuse.

The Sûreté du Québec (SQ) arrested him on Feb. 4, 2020 after one of the five men came forward to police in June 2019. He was convicted on Jan. 20, 2023.

Marlin's lawyer, Alexandre Paradis, told CTV News that his client is appealing the conviction. He declined to comment further on the case. 

'HE DESERVES WHAT HE'S GETTING NOW,' VICTIM SAYS

The victims' identities are shielded by a publication ban. One of them told CTV News that he is "relieved" by the 14-year sentence, which he said will help turn a page in a dark chapter of his life.

"I cried like this when I was 12 years old," he said with his voice shaking. "I feel like a little 12-year-old guy today."

"He stole 40 some years of my life," the man said in a telephone interview on Thursday. "He deserves what he's getting now."

Decades later, he said he still struggles sometimes with the abuse he endured as a child but is seeking help to deal with it.

JUDGE DID NOT BELIEVE MARLIN

Marlin maintained his innocence throughout his 2022 trial. Taking the stand in his own defence, he denied any wrongdoing with the children. For example, he told court that he took two of the kids on tractor rides and tickled their knees, but said he never touched their genitals, and when he found a child sleeping in his bed, he slept on a mattress on the floor.

However, Justice Dubois wrote in his 47-page decision last January that he found multiple instances where Marlin gave false statements in court, contradicted himself and "alleges impossible things in his testimony," including the timelines of when the children were on the farm.

Marlin told the court that the children did not sleep in his bed with him, but the judge said the "evidence to the contrary is overwhelming."

"Because of the credibility and reliability issues … the court does not believe the accused. His testimony, his denial that anything happened, does not raise a doubt in the court's mind," the judge wrote.

The judge found the evidence from all five men was "credible, reliable, and simply truthful," and rejected the defence's argument that there was collusion among the complainants, writing that, "The court can find no evidence of collusion of any kind that could have taken place here."

According to the judgment, Marlin "used tickling as a means to touch their genitals," in describing how the abuse started. It was one of multiple patterns of abuse that emerged in the trial. The victims testified about other similar patterns, including Marlin showing them pornographic magazines, and that the abuse took place in the hayloft, in vehicles, and in his bed.

The boys were also molested in the GMC truck, the sugar shack, the milk room, among other locations, the men testified. There was oral sex in some cases and, during one instance with one of the victims, "the accused tried to sodomize him," according to the judgment.

One victim told the court the abuse happened so often that he estimated "it happened over 1000 times."

When they first came to the farm, the young boys viewed Marlin as a role model. "The accused was like a hero to him back then. He was a fireman," according to the judge's decision.

For another victim, a foster child, Marlin "was the first father figure [he] had in his life," the judge noted in his sentencing decision.

As part of his sentence, Marlin will be placed on the sex-offender registry for 20 years and he must submit a DNA sample. For the next 20 years, the court ordered him to: stay away from a public park where people under 16 are expected to be present; not go near the victims' homes; not seek employment or volunteer work that involves being in a position of authority to anyone under 16; and to not communicate with anyone under 16, except his family.

MARLIN FACING LAWSUITS

Marlin's legal troubles are not over as he heads to prison. Two of his victims are also suing him for a combined $2.4 million in damages.

The plaintiffs are brothers aged 51 and 49, according to the two lawsuits that were filed separately on May 2, 2023. They are identified as "A" and "B" in court documents.

They alleged the abuse they suffered because of Marlin led to serious problems later in life, including alcohol issues, anxiety and thoughts of suicide.

"When A. found out that his little brother was also sexually abused by Marlin, he suffered from terrible misplaced guilt for many years, thinking it was his fault and that he had failed to protect his brother," one of the lawsuits alleged.

The other brother alleged he still has anxiety issues with his own family. "B. is currently on medication for depression and anxiety. He is insecure, hypervigilant, suffers from low self-esteem, has anger issues and he is willing to go to extremes to protect those he loves," the lawsuit claims.

None of the allegations in either lawsuit have been tested in court.

LIST OF MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES IN QUEBEC

If ever you need help, don't hesitate to reach out to:

Your family doctor (if you have one)
Your local CLSC, CISSS or CIUSSS: 811
AMI-Quebec: 514-486-1448
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA): 514-521-4993
Centre Interligne Inc.: (for issues related to sexual orientation): 514-866-0103
Depressives Anonymous: 514-278-2130
Groupe d'entraide pour un mieux-être: (GEME): 450-332-4463
Quebec Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation: 514-727-0012
Société québécoise de la schizophrénie: 514-251-4000 x3400
Suicide Action Montreal: 1 866 277 3553
Suicide Prevention Service: 1 866 APPELLE
Veterans Affairs Canada: 1 800 268-7708
If you need immediate assistance, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.

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