Alleged victims speak out about Kingston, Ont., man accused of serial abuse

·5 min read
Michael Mark Haaima is pictured here in a profile photo once featured on the now-defunct website for a company he reportedly owned.  (Ferus Media / Internet Archive - image credit)
Michael Mark Haaima is pictured here in a profile photo once featured on the now-defunct website for a company he reportedly owned. (Ferus Media / Internet Archive - image credit)
  • UPDATE: On Tuesday, the list of people Haaima (who is in custody) is not allowed to contact was doubled to 38 from 19. The list includes the victims he is accused of abusing. Haaima will next appear in Kingston provincial court on Aug. 2. A bail review hearing in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice is not expected to take place until some time later in August.

WARNING: This story contains disturbing details.  

Three of the 18 women alleging they were abused by a Kingston, Ont., man accused of human trafficking, making child pornography, multiple counts of sexual assault and dozens of other offences say they're speaking out to encourage others to tell their stories.

"Please step forward and help yourself and every other person who is too scared to stand up for themselves," said one young woman, who was underage at the time of her alleged abuse.

The women — whose identities are shielded by a publication ban — described Michael Mark Haaima, 37, as a man who appeared "normal" or "cool" on the outside but became increasingly "manipulative" and "scary" as time went on, escalating to a point where they said getting out from his control became a main concern.

"The trauma he [allegedly] inflicted on countless individuals is worth at least a lifetime in prison," said another of the young women.

Last week, police announced 76 charges against Haaima, a tech entrepreneur in the Kingston area, after a months-long joint investigation involving four arms of law enforcement, including the OPP and Kingston Police. By Wednesday, the tally of charges grew after police added a 19th count of sexual assault.

The alleged offences span from 2007, when Haaima was 22, to early 2020. They involve 18 potential victims, including two who were underage at the time. Police have said there could be other victims.

None of the allegations has been proven in court. Haaima's lawyer declined to comment on Monday.

From 'normal' to 'degrading'

The women did not describe specific abuses in detail to CBC. But they described a myriad of exploitative behaviour — with the first of the three women alleging she was kept against her will.

Haaima's transition from "relatively normal" to "degrading, abusive [and] threatening" altered her worldview, she said.

"I don't trust the same way I used to. The world seems darker, more insidious."

The second woman alleged she was groomed by Haaima.  The third woman who spoke with CBC said she's still trying to recover from her experience.

"It's been a tough ride since I made the police report," she said.

1st woman met him on Tinder 

The first woman said she met Haaima outside of work on dating app Tinder. She said she noticed his profile because of a photo he had of "his cute boxer dog."

"He seemed relatively normal. A bit quiet. Seemingly nice and caring."

She said she only saw him a few times, but on one occasion, she alleged he kept her at his home for hours.

Police have charged Haaima with sexually assaulting the woman, causing her to view child pornography and threatening her family dog.

He faces a total of four counts of forcible confinement — all of which concern other women.

"Once I got out, I never looked back," she said.

2nd woman was employee

The second woman alleged she worked for Haaima until his initial "cool boss" exterior turned "very scary."

Haaima is accused of harassing her and causing her to fear for her safety.

The lead-up to that time was "a slow, groomed process," she alleged. "It was manipulative, well thought-out and not fast-moving at all."

At first, Haaima was very professional and polite, she said, "but in a tech startup way … not too rigid professionally, very friendly and relatable."

Haaima offered to pick her up from home or school, she said.

"Sometimes I felt weird, but because … I didn't have too much experience in a less formal, tech startup setting, I didn't know what was weird and [what] wasn't."

ReFINEd Kingston Magazine
ReFINEd Kingston Magazine

After she turned down offers to hang out outside of work, she alleged he became less friendly and work meetings happened at "weird" times, with texts coming on the weekend or non-work hours.

"He would slip in small details in conversations such as violent offences he's committed and how he isn't scared to commit them again, if needed," she alleged.

After she quit his company, she alleged he contacted her at another workplace, demanding that she return his calls. She quit that job, swapped cars with her partner and started routinely looking behind her back.

"I felt extremely terrified," she said.

Haaima faces five other charges related to harassment and threats involving other women.

3rd woman was underage

The third woman who spoke to CBC said she first met Haaima through a friend when she was still a minor.

"I don't really remember much of certain days or when stuff happened. I worked a lot with my therapist to forget it due to it causing me so much trauma."

Haaima is accused of 19 alleged crimes against the woman, including forcible confinement, sexual assault, assault with a knife, uttering threats, making child pornography and threatening her with the release of sexual photos.

The woman said she felt compelled to make a statement to police early in 2022 after connecting with other alleged victims.

"Something needed to be done," she said.

Haaima faces one other charge of making child pornography involving another woman.

Next steps in court process 

Haaima remains in custody and has been ordered not to contact a list of 19 people.

He is scheduled to appear in Kingston provincial court Tuesday afternoon.

An Ontario Superior Court of Justice hearing on whether Haaima should remain in detention is not expected to happen for weeks.

Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.

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