London sexual assault victim to face abuser in court
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Londoner Paulie O’Byrne will admit he’s come a long way since being sexually assaulted by the head of the Delhi Minor hockey Association in September 2006.
But he knows there’s still a very long road ahead.
O’Byrne was 21 years old when Randy Fakelman inappropriately touched him while icing his knee after a night of drinking. Fakelman has since pleaded guilty to sexual assault and was sentenced to house arrest, but the civil trial is set to begin June 16 in Simcoe with one very large wrinkle.
Fakelman, a Teeterville resident, is expected to represent himself.
“I’m having a tough time with the fact that the man who sexually abused me gets to cross-examine me,” O’Byrne said. “How I’ll get through that I have no idea, but I work with a lot of counsellors and I’m going to have a pile of support there.”
The hearings are expected to last five days.
“It’s tough right now,” O’Byrne said. “It’s tough to get through day by day, but I’m doing it right and I now have five months of sobriety.”
O’Byrne, slim and looking younger than his 29 years, has survived suicide attempts and substantial substance abuse since the incident occurred.
Once the civil trial is over, he plans to raise funds and create awareness of youth mental illness by stick handling a ball across the country. The marathon is expected to begin in September in Newfoundland and Labrador.
His story has gained him Twitter followers from around the world, something he still finds hard to believe.
“It’s become something that’s way bigger than I ever thought,” he said. “The more people that I help out, the better I’m feeling. Youth mental health has really become an epidemic and it’s something I want to improve.”