Montreal - A woman who tracked down her biological father as an adult, then had three children with him, says she couldn't leave the 12-year relationship because it was like belonging to a cult.
"I know it seems ridiculous that I couldn't leave," the woman said Tuesday at the man's sentencing hearing on charges of incest. "It was psychological manipulation."
After a doctor asked her in 1996 whether her father had ever abused her, the woman said she began to "connect the dots." She got a restraining order against him the following year, and he left the home.
But he got custody of the children in 1999 and the woman was allowed only supervised visits.
"The department of youth protection told me it wasn't good to tell the children their father was also their grandfather," she said, adding that the children now know.
While cases of sexual abuse between a father and minor children are common, this case is practically unprecedented because it involves two adults.
Neither the man, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to incest, nor his daughter can be named, to protect the identity of the children, who are now ages 27, 24 and 17.
The woman, 49, was the product of a one-night stand in the 1960s and was adopted by a well-off educated couple in Quebec. She said she had a normal upbringing and a good education. At the age of 23, the woman said, she wanted to find out where she came from so she tracked down her biological parents in 1984.
At her father's request, the two met at the home of former television psychic Jo-Jo Savard.
"He was pitiful," she said about her father in an interview outside the courtroom. "He was living in New York, going back and forth to Quebec, so I took him in."
She said he lured her in with kindness, but then slowly began isolating her from others. He manipulated her mentally, she said. Their first child was born in 1986, followed by two others in 1989 and 1993.
In court Tuesday, the woman said they rarely did anything as a family, except eat meals together. "I had a life with the children, but not a marital life," she said. "I supported him financially, I had no choice. I was very unhappy and never felt like going home, but I had no choice."
The hearing is to continue May 4.