The teen beat leukemia and then roared into the fast lane — drinking, drugs and sex. The girl's mom knew her daughter had reasons for acting out, even as it drove a wedge between the then-14-year-old and her family.
"She wasn't necessarily rebelling on me. She was rebelling at life," the mother said. Neither the mother or the teen can be named because of a court-ordered publication ban. "That's why she wanted to live it so fast, but unfortunately just got involved with the wrong people."
Chief among those wrong people was 37-year-old Bradley Neil Paproski, a crystal meth dealer the teen met online.
Court documents and interviews reveal that Paproski had no qualms about sexually exploiting a 14-year-old cancer survivor in exchange for drugs. He was charged with sexual assault and drug trafficking.
The teen's cancer came back that same year. With it came a desire to prevent Paproski from hurting other girls.
She testified against Paproski on August 26.
She died September 15.
On Tuesday, Paproski was sentenced in provincial court in Saskatoon to five years in prison after being found guilty at trial of sexual assault and trafficking methamphetamine. In her sentencing submissions, prosecutor Lana Morelli said "there are no mitigating circumstances."
"This is an exploitive relationship between a drug dealer and a child."
'She'd already beat the thing that was supposed to kill her'
Morelli said in an interview that the young girl first met Paproski on Facebook in February 2018, when she was 14. She was hunting for drugs.
They messaged and then met.
"They had sexual intercourse without any condoms on. At that time, she took drugs from him that were sitting in the bedroom," Morelli said. "She had leukemia. She was in remission. And so she was using drugs because she'd already beat the thing that was supposed to kill her. She's 14."
They continued to meet through the winter and into the spring. The girl made no effort to hide her lifestyle from her mother. "She came to me and I was asking her, like, how do you get this?" the mother said.
"She was so honest. She told me, she said Mom, I do this, and he does this and he gives me this and that's how I make it." The mother said her daughter's choices "killed our family." The girl stayed close to her older sister, but her brother and father pulled away. It was all too much.
The mother did not sit back idly. Mental health workers, victim services and police all became involved in trying to get her back on track.
'It could happen to somebody else'
The teen was in custody at a youth centre in the summer of 2018 when her life turned.
First, staff at the youth centre became alarmed when they heard details about her relationship with Paproski. This led to a police investigation. Second, the teen became pregnant by a new boyfriend. She went on to give birth to a little girl.
Sobriety and a baby reunited mother and daughter. "Being a mom, she kind of knew what I was going through," said the mother.
"She's like, I get it now mom."
Paproski, meanwhile, had been arrested and charged with dealing drugs. In January 2019 he began serving a three-and-a-half year prison sentence.
With her abuser behind bars, the young girl felt safe enough to go on the record to police and proceed with charges based on what had happened to her.
Meanwhile, her leukemia returned with a vengeance. She went into an aggressive chemotherapy program as the case progressed through the courts. Paproski stood trial in August 2019.
The girl, now 15, interrupted her chemotherapy to testify in person.
"She had a feeling she wasn't going to make it this time, and she was right. So that's why she went," her mother said. "She knew she had to stop this because this could happen again to somebody else. With her having a daughter, I think that really hit home."
She said facing Paproski in court gave her daughter peace. "She felt so good that day, we took her out for lunch, me and her dad," she said.
"She cried, she laughed, those tears were of joy. She felt better. She just knew that she could help another young girl, maybe out there, that would think twice about what they're doing."
'An extraordinary young girl'
On Tuesday, prosecutor Morelli and defence lawyer Meaghen Ward jointly recommended a five-year prison sentence for Paproski, with the clock not beginning until his current drug sentence is completed.
Judge Marilyn Gray accepted the recommended sentence.
"This was a major sexual assault with a very young complainant," Judge Gray said.
"He used her for sex in exchange for drugs."
Morelli recalled the slim young girl on the stand. "She was facing cancer so facing the offender didn't seem that bad," she said. "She didn't want it to happen to anybody else. She is an extraordinary young girl."
The mother lost her daughter, but gained a granddaughter. On the good days, it's almost enough.
"She told me this summer that she wasn't going to make her 16th birthday. That's the reason God gave her a daughter, so I would have somebody when she was gone," she said.
"I miss her so much."
Published on: January 30th, 2020