The youngest daughter of legendary Canadian author Alice Munro revealed that she was sexually assaulted by her stepfather and that her mother stayed with the man, even after he admitted to the abuse.

Andrea Robin Skinner, a teacher in Ontario, disclosed the assault in an essay for the Toronto Star that sent shockwaves throughout the literary world, where the Nobel Prize–winning Munro, who died in May at 92, was a beloved figure, known for her short stories about the lives of small-town Canadians.

In the essay, Skinner writes that when she was 9, her stepfather, Gerald Fremlin, sexually assaulted her at her mother’s house while the author was away. Skinner says that she disclosed the assault to her stepbrother after she returned to the home of her father and his wife. Her stepbrother urged Skinner to tell her father; she did, but he decided not to tell Munro about the incident.

Skinner says that she wrote a letter to Munro when she was 25 informing her of the assault. Fremlin found the letter after Munro initially left him and wrote a series of letters to the family, saying, “Andrea invaded my bedroom for sexual adventure.…If the worst comes to worst I intend to go public. I will make available for publication a number of photographs, notably some taken at my cabin near Ottawa which are extremely eloquent…one of Andrea in my underwear shorts.”

Munro returned to Fremlin, telling the family that she still loved the man and that, in Skinner’s words, “our misogynistic culture was to blame if I expected her to deny her own needs, sacrifice for her children, and make up for the failings of men.”

In 2005, Fremlin pleaded guilty to the assault and was sentenced to two years of probation. “I was satisfied,” Skinner writes. “I hadn’t wanted to punish him. I believed he was too old to hurt anyone else. What I wanted was some record of the truth, some public proof that I hadn’t deserved what had happened to me.”

Michael Schaub is a contributing writer.