Absolution granted to a sexual aggressor: the DPCP will appeal

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Absolution granted to a sexual aggressor: the DPCP will appeal

While the Crown claimed 18 months from prison, Simon Houle was granted a conditional discharge.

In the wake of the conditional discharge of an engineer from Trois-Rivières, who sexually assaulted a woman and took photos of her private parts while she slept, the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP) indicated on Tuesday that he will appeal the decision.

We can fully understand the distress and frustration of the victims, said Minister of Justice Simon Jolin-Barrette. Given ongoing legal proceedings, we will make no further comment, he added.

A conditional discharge was granted to Simon Houle by the Court of Quebec last month to allow him to travel for work and avoid having a criminal record.

In April 2019, Simon Houle, then a mechanical engineering student at the University of Quebec in Trois-Rivières, sexually assaulted one of her friends at a party in an apartment. The woman, who was sleeping in a bedroom, had been awakened by the light from a camera. She had then felt fingers in her vagina. Her camisole was up and her bra was open. Nine photos of his private parts were found in his attacker's cell phone.

More than two years later, the engineer had pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault and voyeurism. Simon Houle's employer indicated on Tuesday morning that he had terminated the employment relationship.

The decision of the Court of Quebec provoked a lot of reactions in the political, judicial and community environment.

According to Mélanie Lemay, co-founder of the organization Quebec against sexual violence, this decision by the judge [Matthieu Poliquin, de la Cour du Québec, NDLR] allowed us to prove that there is still a long way to go to facilitate access to justice for all victims of sexual assault.

Mélanie Lemay is co-founder of the Quebec movement against sexual violence.

According to her, the new courts specializing in sexual violence will not ensure that this type of decision will not happen again, because we live in a system that remains centered on the rights of the aggressors and their rehabilitation, while the word of the victims and the consequences on their lives are not taken into consideration.

This is an extremely disturbing judgment, according to PQ MNA Véronique Hivon. She is surprised at certain passages of the judgment.

“After the whole MeToo movement, after all the denunciations and awareness that we have collectively made about this scourge of sexual violence, to read how much we can minimize, in a judgment of our courts, that goes beyond the ;understanding. »

— Véronique Hivon, MP for the Parti Québécois

What troubled the MP for Joliette was to read in particular that the duration of the assault had an impact on the judge's decision, but also that a previous assault by the same man did not #x27;was not taken into account.

Contrary to Ms. Lemay, Véronique Hivon believes that specialized courts will make it possible to avoid this kind of pitfall, because the judges will be continuously trained on the very specific realities of sexual assault.

In an interview on the show Midi info, Rachel Chagnon, professor in the Department of Legal Sciences at UQAM, pointed out that, in determining a sentence, the appearance of justice counts as much as the justice itself so that the public have confidence in the system.

“In a world where we recognize that historically we have not been severe enough, that we have not sent a clear enough message about the seriousness of sexual assault, does a sentence that appears relatively benevolent at first sight send the message that x27; we want to send? »

— Rachel Chagnon, professor in the Department of Legal Sciences at UQAM

For the Liberal MP for Verdun, Isabelle Melançon, this is not with a judgment like this we can rebuild trust in the justice system. In an interview with RDI, she said she was disgusted by reading certain passages of the judgment.

With information from Geneviève Garon

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