A wealthy pharmacy owner has been convicted for taking advantage of vulnerable women by first drugging them and raping them afterward.
The bespectacled and well-dressed senior citizen in the prisoners’ box might be the last person you’d expect to plead guilty to 17 sex assaults on women involved in the sex trade.
But that’s exactly what happened in Newmarket court last week after Allen Chow, the wealthy and well-educated owner of a Toronto pharmacy, admitted to videotaping and raping the victims after allegedly drugging them.
The emotionally charged trial was the culmination of a two-year long York Regional Police investigation involving 70 hours of videotape in which unconscious women were repeatedly abused without their knowledge or consent.
The investigation was prompted after Det. Const. Shane McKenzie from the drugs and vice squad met a 21-year-old victim of the sex industry, who, distraught one night, cut herself and was taken to hospital.
‘I often wake up at night with the thought or feeling of being touched. That is because of you! I will always have to live with the sick and twisted images I cannot un-see.’
In the following interviews, she divulged she had woken up on one “date” to Chow having unprotected sex with her and this was not the first time.
In most cases, his victims had a number of rules prior to agreeing to any meetings with Chow, many of which included “no unprotected sex”.
After his arrest, the videos and drugs were discovered by police.
According to the agreed statement of facts, Chow filmed 95 “dates” with escorts after contacting them in a multitude of ways, including Craigslist, Backpages.com, escort agencies and word of mouth.
After agreeing on a price, he would meet them in a variety of hotels around the GTA and beyond, including Markham and Vaughan.
More than one of the girls described him as their “cash cow” because of his propensity to pay high amounts of money to the girls.
This included giving one girl, who was down on her luck, $1,200 to get an apartment, as well as paying one woman a reported $15,000 after multiple meetings.
Chow would also buy gifts for the victims, including jewelry, laptops, flowers, chocolates and music systems.
He was also described as giving life advice to more than one of the victims, a tendency they deemed, at the time, as a paternal instinct.
But there was a very dark side to this Hong Kong-born married father of one.
In almost all of the victims’ accounts, the short 62-year-old carried around a black “man purse” in which he allegedly carried drugs with which he is suspected to have laced victims’ drinks, often vodka.
When they refused booze, it’s alleged he placed powder in glasses of orange juice.
Once drugged, the girls would pass out and Chow would set up a camera and abuse and subject them to “degrading” behaviour, documents allege.
When he was arrested by police, he was found with a pill bottle containing Cialis and Viagra, a bottle of vodka, two memory cards, two paper bags stapled shut containing $250 and $360, $400 cash and two medicine bottles containing white powder.
Other drugs located included lorazepam, oxycodone and what was suspected to be chloroform and ethanol, documents show.
The victims described frightening symptoms after ingesting some of the drugs, including sleeping for days on end, passing out and violent vomiting.
In some cases, a loss of consciousness could have occurred in a number of frightening situations, including behind the wheel of a car.
It’s hard to quantify the sort of emotional and psychological impact the incidents have had on the victims, some of them as young as 19 at the time, documents indicate.
Some became physically ill when the videos of them being raped while unconscious were shown at trial.
At least one female could be seen unresponsive and foaming at the mouth in a video during her rape.
On many occasions, police had very little to work from to locate the women in the video as all victims were unaware of what had occurred.
Police often used tattoos to identify victims.
The court documents describe a number of women suspecting they had been drugged and raped by Chow, but never knowing for sure, considering they would wake up in a daze, without remembering much.
At least one woman discovered something was awry when she spoke to a friend over the phone and was told she was mumbling, before she passed out for days.
The victim impact statements read before the courts tell a harrowing story.
One woman, whose identity is protected by a court publication ban on the names of victims of sexual abuse, said she suffers ongoing nightmares of the events to which she was subjected.
“I often wake up at night with the thought or feeling of being touched. That is because of you! I will always have to live with the sick and twisted images I cannot un-see.”
Another said she randomly finds herself screaming and bursting into tears and described what it was like telling her parents.
“I’ve never seen such heartbreak and shame in two people who love me so much. I let them down and I hate myself for that.”
As a result of Chow’s actions, another victim said she has tried to take her life.
“I have had numerous hospitalizations for suicide attempts and post-traumatic disorder… I feel like I will never get over this. His face will always be in my mind forever… I pray that maybe someday he will realize what he has taken emotionally, mentally and physically to myself and many, many other women.”
Another victim discussed the night she was drugged and the pain that followed.
“Your gut tells you something isn’t right, but without being able to remember, you feel hopeless… laying in bed wondering what happened, trying so hard to remember. After weeks of punishing myself… drinking became my next choice to heal from the unknown… It’s been four years since my assault, but the emotions are still overpowering at times.”
One particularly poignant letter talks about how one victim resisted Chow’s repeated efforts to contact her, but eventually gave in to him after running out of options and money.
“So, feeling worthless and needing money, I gave in to Allen again. He was offering me even more money than before and making extravagant promises, such as paying off my credit card,” she wrote. “Looking back, I wonder if his odd obsession was some awful decision to get his money’s worth, and I hate it. I feel as though I should have caught on to his strange behaviour. (Eventually) chaotic bouts of depression took over my life.”
Chow, who owned but sold the Bridletown Pharmacy in Scarborough two years ago, will be sentenced Sept. 8.
Source: York Region