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HomeNewsQuebec victims group surprised after man gets conditional discharge for sex assault

Quebec victims group surprised after man gets conditional discharge for sex assault

A Surete du Quebec police car is seen in Montreal on July 22, 2020. A crime victims advocacy group is expressing concern after a Quebec man was granted a conditional discharge last month after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a woman as she slept.

MONTREAL – A criminal offense victims advocacy group expressed concern on Tuesday after a Quebec man was granted a conditional discharge in a sexual assault case, partially as a result of the choose felt a conviction might injury the person’s profession.

Marie-Christine Villeneuve of Crime Victims Help Centres says she worries the sunshine sentence could also be discouraging to victims and make them reluctant to report sexual assaults.

You are reading: Quebec victims group surprised after man gets conditional discharge for sex assault

“When you’re a sufferer seeing this sort of determination, it’s attainable that you possibly can be extra terrified of turning to the authorized course of, of submitting a grievance, and possibly fearful about actually getting justice on the finish of this course of,” she mentioned in an interview.

The ruling, she mentioned, seems to run opposite to the present pattern, “which is extra towards concern for the sufferer on the coronary heart of the authorized course of.”

Within the June determination, a Quebec courtroom choose in Trois-Rivières, Que., opted to present Simon Houle probation and a conditional discharge, partly as a result of a conviction would make it onerous for Houle to journey as an engineer. Houle pleaded responsible final 12 months to sexual assault and voyeurism after assaulting an acquaintance in 2019 and taking pictures of the intimate components of her physique as she slept. He was 27 on the time.

The sufferer “was awoken by the sunshine of a digital camera” to seek out Houle assaulting her along with his fingers after she had fallen asleep at a buddy’s residence after an evening of consuming at a bar with a bunch of mates. Her shirt had been lifted and her bra unfastened, the courtroom determination mentioned.

The lady “panicked” and went to the kitchen, the place the accused adopted her and introduced her again to mattress. A search of his telephone would later reveal that he had taken 9 pictures.

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Decide Matthieu Poliquin discovered that the sufferer suffered vital hurt because of the assault, together with anger, disgrace, concern of seeing the accused, and penalties for her faculty, work and private life. She was additionally in a susceptible state as a result of truth she had consumed alcohol and was sleeping, the choice mentioned.

Nonetheless, the choose famous that the assault occurred “all in all rapidly,” including that Houle had taken remedy significantly and sincerely regretted his actions.

“A sentence apart from a discharge would have a big impression on his profession as an engineer,” the choose wrote. “This career requires travelling around the globe,” he added, whereas acknowledging that Houle had not but been required to journey by his employer as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.

Houle admitted throughout remedy to have assaulted one other particular person in 2015. The choose described that admission as regarding however mentioned it additionally confirmed a “want for transparency.” No expenses had been filed because of the 2015 incident.

Houle was additionally convicted of impaired driving in 2014 however had by no means been convicted of a violent crime.

Poliquin mentioned Houle was at low threat of reoffending and had been convincingly rehabilitated. “It’s within the basic curiosity that the accused, an asset for society, can proceed his skilled profession,” the choose wrote.

A conditional discharge might be granted in instances when an individual pleads responsible however just isn’t convicted so long as they fulfil sure circumstances. Houle was given three years of probation and should pay $6,000 to a victims assist group.

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If he meets the circumstances, he’ll keep away from a everlasting prison report.

Quebec’s Crown prosecutors workplace says it is going to search to enchantment the choose’s sentencing determination within the coming weeks.

Houle’s sentence, which was first reported by Radio-Canada, sparked an avalanche of on-line feedback denouncing the choice.

Villeneuve mentioned that whereas the decision could also be disappointing to some, it is very important keep in mind that it is just one determination and that the authorized system is just one path to therapeutic for victims.

Whereas the courts haven’t historically been inviting to sexual assault survivors, there are makes an attempt underway to rebuild confidence by means of the implementation of specialised sexual assault tribunals, she mentioned. Villeneuve added that her group is there to assist victims, whether or not they select to file a proper grievance or not.

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed July 5, 2022.

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