WARNING: This story contains graphic content some readers may find disturbing.
When allegations began to emerge against Montreal billionaire Robert G. Miller in February 2023, Carmen found her world turned upside down.
She says she was shaken by the stories of the underaged girls who say they were sexually exploited by the businessman.
Their words brought back painful memories for Carmen. In 1977, she said, she also fell prey to Miller, a reclusive tech magnate who she says was a friend of her family’s.
“I still have nightmares about what happened when I was a child,” she wrote in an affidavit.
Carmen was 12 years old, and believes she may have been among the first victims of a man known to those who say he exploited them as Bob.
The Montreal woman has been given a pseudonym. She asked that her identity be protected because her family still doesn’t know about these events. Her allegations have been submitted as part of a class-action lawsuit against Robert Miller.
In February 2023, Radio-Canada’s Enquête and CBC’s The Fifth Estate revealed the stories of several women accusing Miller of having paid them for sex when they were underage.
The investigation shed light on an elaborate network that included high-ranking employees at Miller’s tech company who allegedly helped organize the billionaire’s illicit sexual activities, with young girls paid thousands of dollars to bring him other underaged friends.
Miller has always denied all allegations made against him. His lawyers did not respond to a request for comment on this latest story.
In February, Miller stepped down as CEO of his company, Future Electronics, hours after publication of the CBC story. In September 2023, the Montreal-based multinational was sold to a Taiwanese corporation for more than $5 billion Cdn.
More than 40 women, including Carmen, have now added their names to a not-yet-certified class-action lawsuit against Miller. Three other individual lawsuits — totalling nearly $30 million in claims — have also been filed in Quebec Superior Court.
Until now, the allegations put forth in the CBC investigation and in the victims’ affidavits took place over a span of 24 years, from 1992 to 2016.
But Carmen’s account now suggests the 80-year-old billionaire’s alleged sexual exploitation may have started in the 1970s.
‘A wolf in sheep’s clothing’
“I called him Uncle Bob, but there was no family relation,” Carmen said in an interview with CBC.
She recounted how the already wealthy businessman, who was then in his mid-30s, was a friend of her parents and a frequent fixture in her life.
Her family had no reason to distrust Miller, she said. The tall, dark and handsome man was sharp, charismatic and generous with compliments, she added.
“He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
The abuse first began in 1977, she claims.
Miller and his then-wife, Margaret, had come to Carmen’s home to meet with her family for a restaurant outing. Carmen, who’d been outside playing with friends, said she didn’t want to go and threw a fit.
Her mom relented and allowed the 12-year-old to stay home on the condition that she take a shower. Carmen said Miller, who claimed he had some work calls to do, offered to babysit.
Until that evening, Carmen said she had always been an innocent, happy-go-lucky child.
“I would be out there with my neighbourhood friends,” she said. “We’d play tag, soccer baseball. I would climb trees and then come home covered in dirt.”
That night, as she settled in to watch television, she said Miller reminded her that she should listen to her mother and go to wash. She reluctantly agreed.
When she came out of the shower, she said Miller was leaning on the vanity, holding her towel. She claims the businessman dried her off and started rubbing her to keep her warm. Then he followed her into her bedroom, where he forced himself on her.
“I cried because he hurt me, but I felt completely violated, without knowing what that word even meant.”
The businessman allegedly told her this was normal, that it would be their little secret. She said he gave her $20 (about $92 today) and told her to buy herself something nice.
“I was extremely terrified, there were so many emotions in my mind. Why is he doing this, he’s supposed to be my Uncle Bob,” she said. “I had never even seen my brother or my dad naked. I didn’t know what was going on.”
At the time, Carmen said, she was too scared to tell anyone.
Miller eventually started visiting her regularly for sex.
After each meeting, she said he paid her, first $20 or $40, and eventually $200 to $300, even once $1,000, “always in cash.”
Miller allegedly had two male friends who lived in two separate apartments in the same building as her family. Carmen said that these men would lend Miller their apartments for him to have sex in.
“Those men saw me, but I couldn’t tell you their names,” she said.
The CBC investigation into Miller’s activities revealed the businessman used a series of Montreal hotel rooms and a large Westmount home to meet with the young girls he recruited, meetings that were allegedly facilitated by some of his colleagues and associates.
‘How can you enable this?’
Carmen said she was not surprised to learn that others had allegedly helped Miller. “I want to understand how these men can justify their actions, to help this man find victims,” she said. “How can you enable this, how can you accept what is going on?”
Alluding to the CBC story, when it was reported that most of Miller’s alleged victims agreed to bring him other young girls and friends, Carmen said she does not judge these girls “because I know what he did, what he said. He was brainwashing me in many ways.”
“He would ask me to ask my friends, to see if any of them had little sisters. I would say: ‘No, that’s out of the question.'”
Miller maintained the relationship by telling her she was his “special little girl,” that this was their secret and by normalizing his actions as a “typical sexual relationship,” Carmen said.
Back then, people didn’t really speak out about this type of situation, she said.
“That generation never said anything. Even when abominable things happened, it stayed hushed, even within families.”
‘I understood that was a threat’
Over the years, Carmen said she began to feel increasingly ashamed of the secret relationship.
“If I complained, the amounts increased, $500, $1,000,” she said. She would occasionally threaten to go to the police, which she says made Miller scoff.
“He’d say: ‘Who do you think they’ll believe, you? Or somebody like me?'”
Sometimes, she would allude to telling her parents, which she said seemed to spook him.
She saw him for the last time in 1982, when she was 17. When she broke things off, she said he asked her again to bring him her young friends, which she refused to do.
“He gave me a pretty thick envelope and said: ‘Just keep your mouth shut,’ and I understood that was a threat.”
Carmen said the envelope contained around $10,000, which she threw down her apartment complex’s garbage chute. She acknowledges that some people might find that hard to believe, but “I didn’t want anything to do with him, I couldn’t give [that money] to friends, and if I deposited it, someone would have asked me where it was from.”
“When it stopped, I was like: ‘OK, it’s done.'”
Carmen said she eventually told her now-husband, in 1986. She credits him with saving her life: he encouraged her to start therapy, where she was finally able to open up about what she experienced.
“I’ve been on antidepressants since 1992, and if I don’t take them, I fall apart.”
Carmen would only hear Miller’s name again in early the 2000s, during media coverage of a dropped FBI investigation into the business dealings of Future Electronics.
“I remember thinking: ‘Well, what has he done now?’ Just reading his name upset me.”
Then, in 2023, her siblings told her about the CBC investigation into Miller. She said they were shocked to learn of these allegations targeting their parents’ friend.
“They told me he had done horrible sexual things with young girls and I was like: ‘Oh my God, I’m not alone.'”
Her family still doesn’t know about the abuse, and she is not ready to tell them.
Still, she feels an intense desire to speak out, and now plans on contacting police.
“If I’d had the courage, in 1992 when I started to speak about this, if I’d gone to the police, maybe he would have stopped doing what he did to all the others,” she said. “Or maybe not, because he was a man who could pay anyone to shut up.”
‘He took everything away from me’
Carmen looks back bitterly at this period of her life.
“He took everything away from me,” she said. “A little girl of that age should never have known and done what I had to go through. I grew up very fast.”
Once a boisterous, playful child, she said she became fearful and nervous. “I was afraid to be with men, even young boys, because in my mind they were all the same,” she said. “I stopped laughing, I stopped smiling, I closed myself off.”
Carmen claims Miller completely altered her life’s trajectory.
“My dreams no longer existed.”
A once-talented athlete, she said she gave up on sports and her Olympic aspirations. She also dropped out of school at age 16.
“If you look at my old report cards, the teachers must have thought: ‘Wow, there’s a serious problem.’ I was failing absolutely everything. I was afraid of my shadow.”
Her interactions with Miller created body image issues that first manifested as anorexia, then as overeating, she said.
“I told myself: ‘I’m not going to be a victim again,’ so I became obese. I never wanted another man to find me appealing, attractive. I wanted none of that.”
As an adult, she said travelling for work — especially with men — also became an issue.
“At one job, I had to speak in public and I just couldn’t,” she said. “I’ll never be 100 per cent healed.”
Carmen, who said she still has nightmares about Miller, said the situation also affected her relationship with her family. Now a parent herself, she finds it hard to believe that her own mother didn’t notice what she was going through, and how much she had changed, seemingly overnight.
“I had told [my husband], I don’t want kids because if it’s a girl I’ll be too much of an overprotective mother,” she said. “When I had a son, I was relieved he was a boy, but then I became afraid that he’d become a predator.
“It ruined my entire life, and that’s not an exaggeration.”
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, help is available through Endingviolencecanada.org.
Free and confidential one-on-one mental health support from professionals is available 24/7 from Wellness Together Canada by calling 1-866-585-0445 or texting WELLNESS to 686868 for youth and 741741 for adults.
If you are in immediate danger or fear for your safety, call 911.