West Island tattoo artist jailed for having sex with two minors at his shop
Rowan McKenzie given nine-month sentence, two years of probation
A West Island resident who operated a tattoo and body-piercing shop in Pierrefonds for years has been sentenced to a nine-month prison term for having sex with two minors inside his place of business.
Rowan McKenzie, 49, appeared sullen before he was taken into custody Thursday afternoon even though he knew the sentence Quebec Court Judge Joëlle Roy delivered would be based on a joint submission made by lawyers on both sides of the case.
In February, McKenzie pleaded guilty to charges he had faced since 2013. In doing so, he admitted he had sex with two girls, who were 14 and 15 at the time, inside a shop he used to own called Skin Deep.
After the guilty plea was entered, one of the victims, who was inspired by the MeToo movement, took to Facebook and described her experience and disappointment in the sentence McKenzie would probably receive. What she posted generated many shares and comments. Another woman who had sex with McKenzie inside his shop while she was a minor joined in the Facebook campaign and revealed he had been convicted of similar offences in 2005.
The abuse happened while McKenzie had a shop on Des Sources Blvd. in Pierrefonds. After he was charged in the 2013 case, McKenzie opened a new shop on St. Jean Blvd., within walking distance of Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School.
The store shut its doors days after the victim went public on Facebook.
“For five years, it took everything in me to stay quiet about who was among our community. So this past March, after a painfully long time, I said enough was enough,” the victim who took to Facebook said in court on Thursday while reading from a statement before McKenzie was sentenced.
She also explained why she went public.
“I was tired of hearing stories about young girls wanting tattoos and knowing that they were going to Rowan’s shop for them.
“I risked my privacy and my name to speak publicly of Rowan McKenzie and the danger he presents on the only platform that I knew could get across to my community: Facebook. I knew by doing this it was an opportunity to stop any more people from becoming a victim of Rowan McKenzie.”
The Montreal Gazette is not publishing the victim’s name because her identity is protected by a court order. The young woman said she was relieved that she has finally begun to heal and has “put this terrible thing behind me.”
She said she felt that McKenzie took advantage of her and manipulated her after sensing she was going through a difficult time in her life when she asked him for a tattoo.
“When writing this statement, and even when presenting this statement, it is my belief that it will serve little value in making you truly realize the impact of your predatory assaults. I was not your first victim and I was not your last,” she said.
The nine-month prison term will be followed by two years of probation. Roy issued an order barring McKenzie from making contact with minors over the internet for a period of 10 years.
According to a source close to the investigation, since March, other young women have filed complaints with the Montreal police against McKenzie alleging they were victims of similar abuse.