Agnieszka Ciochon-Newton stalked and harassed her victims for years with a zeal seemingly ripped from the pages of a paperback thriller.
She was bent on destroying the lives of those she believed had done her wrong.
After the former St. Boniface General Hospital nurse was sentenced to six years in prison this week, one of her victims said she doesn’t know if she will ever feel safe again.
"I want to say it’s over, but it’s never going to be over," said the woman after her tormentor was led out of court by a sheriff’s officer Thursday.
"I still don’t go out by myself in a public setting, even though she has been incarcerated," said the woman, Ciochon-Newton’s former supervisor at the hospital.
"I don’t think she will learn by this," she said. "She won’t stop unless she gets help. There was really nothing said in court that makes me think she will change."
Ciochon-Newton, 54, pleaded guilty last year to criminal harassment, public mischief, obstruction of justice and other offences involving four victims. She spent more than 16 months in custody before being sentenced, during which time she refused to co-operate with the preparation of a pre-sentence report or court-ordered psychiatric assessment.
While Ciochon-Newton’s criminal actions and mute appearances in court suggested mental issues might be at play, the court could not accept she is mentally ill absent evidence, said Judge Keith Eyrikson.
"The bald assertion of a mental health issue is not enough. There has to be some substantiation," he said. "If there is, I certainly hope she gets some help for it, both in and out of custody."
The former hospital manager endured years of harassment and stalking both at work and at home; it led to her retiring early.
Unhappy with the manager, Ciochon-Newton in 2013 bombarded senior hospital administrators, the Manitoba Nurses Union and College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba with letters and emails full of derogatory remarks and false allegations against the manager. Ciochon-Newton was placed on administrative leave and ultimately fired.
In September 2013, Ciochon-Newton contacted the Canadian Border Services Agency and claimed the victim was going to be "the next Connecticut shooter." That prompted a call to the FBI, which opened an investigation into the victim’s activities.
In December 2016, Ciochon-Newton called the woman at work, and claimed she was sleeping with her husband. Over the next several months, Ciochon-Newton left the woman numerous voicemail messages containing sexualized panting and moaning.
In March 2017, Ciochon-Newton targeted the woman’s husband and called police with false claims she had seen a man in his car driving by her house armed with a knife. Ciochon-Newton made similar allegations in the months that followed.
By late 2017, Ciochon-Newton shifted her attention to another victim, a firefighter she had met at a yard sale. The two exchanged phone numbers after she asked the man if he would be interested in doing renovation work at her Osborne Village condo.
The man later met her for coffee at her home, but backed out of doing any work after she made comments that made him uncomfortable.
As the man tried to distance himself from her, Ciochon-Newton continued to leave messages and letters for him, as well as "gift" packages outside his house.
A year later, she got upset after learning the man had a girlfriend. Ciochon-Newton set up a fake profile on the Ashley Madison dating website and used it to send unsuspecting men to the man’s house seeking anonymous sex.
The man’s adult daughter was living with him at the time.
"The thought of what could have potentially happened to my 29-year-old after being confronted by a stranger in her own home who, under the direction of this woman, would have let himself in with the expectation of getting sexual pleasure, sickens me," the man told court at the sentencing hearing last fall.
Ciochon-Newton used social media to undermine a small business operated by the man, and she filed false complaints with his union and city police.
The havoc Ciochon-Newton wreaked upon the lives of her victims "almost defies description," Eyrikson said.
"Ms Ciochon-Newton’s actions throughout were relentless, calculated and cunning… and in many ways life-destroying," he said. "The actions are highly despicable."
Ciochon-Newton pleaded guilty to additional counts of fraud, forgery and theft, involving a now-89-year-old acquaintance from whom she stole and forged cheques for several thousand dollars. She also pleaded guilty to public mischief after falsely accusing a Club Regent casino security guard of sexually assaulting her in a washroom.
Ciochon-Newton received credit for time served, reducing her remaining sentence to just under four years.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.