TORONTO — A Canadian woman has pleaded guilty to assaulting two members of a pro-life group after being captured on camera shoving, throwing metal objects and attempting to start a fight with those who were expressing their views at Ryerson University last fall.
Gabriela Skwarko, 23, was suspended for one year from her undergraduate studies and lost her job at the university after charges were filed against her, Global News reports.
On May 1, being accompanied by her parents, brother and uncle, she apologized for her actions, stating that she had let her family down.
“I’m glad Gabby is pleading guilty and taking responsibility for her actions,” Katie Somers, one of the members of Toronto Against Abortion who had been attacked, told the outlet. “I thanked her. It meant a lot to hear her express remorse for what she did. I know this has affected her greatly, too.”
Somers had reportedly provided an impact statement in court, outlining that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from the incident, and that her family doesn’t want her to participate in the free speech events anymore due to concerns for her safety.
As previously reported, the altercation occurred on Oct. 1 as Toronto Against Abortion was holding signs and speaking to passersby about the issue of abortion. Members of Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective soon decided to counter the group, holding their own signs to cover the pro-life group’s signs.
Video posted online shows a peaceful and civil discussion taking place between both sides, that is, until Skwarko walked over to member Blaise Alleyne and kicked a sign he was holding, which featured a graphic image of an aborted baby.
She then threw a metal dolly and clamp at Somers, who was attempting to get away from the situation. The video shows Skwarko pursuing Somers, shoving her, pulling an item out of her backpack and throwing it to the ground, and then shoving Somers again after she called out, “Get away from me!”
Others called out “Chill out!” and “Relax!,” and one man positioned himself between Skwarko and Somers to stop any further aggression.
“She kicked our signs, shoved them down. They fell down my leg, injuring me,” Somers told Global News in October following the incident. “And then I tried to run away, while she picked up a metal dolly and threw it at me and then proceeded to shove me, wrestle me around by my backpack and try to get me to fight her.”
Skwarko can also be heard saying “Let’s go!” in the recording and then chest-bumping Alleyne as she provoked him to fight, egging, “Let’s do it. Are you filming me? Let’s do it.”
“Gabby, think carefully about this,” he replied.
Like Somers, Alleyne told reporters that he is thankful that Skwarko pleaded guilty and took responsibility for her behavior.
“I’ve never faced this kind of violence before. It’s just beyond the pale,” he told LifeSite News. “We don’t wish her any ill will and I hope that this is a time for her to reflect and grow and learn from her mistake.”
Skwarko will not face any jail time as prosecutors have recommended a conditional discharge and 18 months probation.
Psalm 51:16-17 reads, “For Thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it. Thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.”
Psalm 38:18 says, “For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.”