Involved in an Optimist Club even though he is accused of sexually assaulting a minor

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Involved in an Optimist Club even though he is accused of sexually assaulting a minor

Éric Beaulieu faces charges of invitation to sexual touching and sexual assault of a person under the age of 16.

Radio-Canada has learned that a volunteer member of the Acton Vale Optimist Club, Éric Beaulieu, allegedly failed to mention to this organization, which funds activities with young people, that he was being sued. for a year for sexual assault on a person under 16.

The rest of us, to be part of the Optimist Club, you have to be clean!, reacted the vice-president of the Optimist Club, Sylvie Caouette, about her volunteer member.

According to the courthouse public record, Éric Beaulieu first appeared on April 11, 2022 to face two counts of invitation to sexual touching and sexual assault of a person. under the age of 16.

The alleged facts allegedly occurred in June 1998.

The mandate of the club is to organize collections of funds to donate money to youth sports associations in Acton Vale.

The values ​​advocated are optimism and encouragement. Moreover, the organization's slogan is: Bringing out the best in young people.

Sylvie Caouette is vice -President of the Optimist Club of Acton Vale.

The last time I saw him was for our donut sale, our last fundraiser of last year. It was in November, just before the holidays. He never told me anything. Nothing ever happened with him, added Ms. Caouette, visibly upset about the situation.

Sylvie Caouette affirms without reservation that no one at the Optimist Club nothing known of the charges against Éric Beaulieu.

It's a lack of confidence that he didn't talk about this accusation. Our Optimist Club is trying to survive. We are short of volunteers. He [Éric Beaulieu] hurts us very badly as an organization, launched Ms. Caouette, who finds it difficult to see how the organization can remain associated with the accused.

Accused of sexual assault on a person under the age of 16, Éric Beaulieu was still a volunteer member of the Optimist Club of Acton Vale.

Before being arrested by the Régie intermunicipale de police Richelieu-Saint-Laurent in February 2022, Éric Beaulieu was until then a volunteer who ;invested exclusively in the youth of the Municipality of Acton Vale.

Since 2013, he has held several roles, including President of the Optimist Club, President of the Minor Soccer Club, member of the Board of Directors of the Maison des jeunes, and was one of the leaders of the #x27;Minor Baseball Association.

According to Acton Vale's communications manager, Vicky Lessard, Éric Beaulieu's volunteer involvement with organizations related to the Municipality would have ended around the fall of 2022, nearly six months after his first appearance at the Longueuil courthouse.

It was only Thursday morning that the mayor of Acton Vale, Éric Charbonneau, learned of the existence of a sexual assault lawsuit against Éric Beaulieu, which has multiplied volunteer involvement in the sector. sports and leisure over the years.

I can tell you that there were a lot of phone calls made after your questions were received. We have checked all the sectors where Mr. Beaulieu may have been involved as a volunteer with us. No one knew about it, admitted Mayor Charbonneau, who said he was stunned in a telephone interview.

He specifies that the role played by Éric Beaulieu was more on the boards of directors than in the field, which would have put him in direct contact with young people.

The mayor of Acton Vale, Éric Charbonneau, in front of the town hall, last September.

Questioned about the mechanisms that can prevent this type of case, which places paramunicipal organizations in delicate situations, the mayor admits to having few solutions for the moment.

Organizations are supposed to check every year all those who revolve around young people, whether in soccer, baseball, etc. At the level of the boards of directors, it is less clear. But we will spread the word that this is also done among the administrators, he said.

Joined by telephone, the lawyer representing Éric Beaulieu, Me Francis Le Borgne, wishes to recall that the alleged offense against his client dates back more than 25 years.

It is not, according to the lawyer , a situation that involves a relationship of authority with the alleged victim or consent.

The issue to be decided during the trial will be the responsibility of the accused, who was 19 at the time, to inform himself of the age of a sexual partner, younger by at least 5 years.

According to Me Le Borgne, Éric Beaulieu himself would have suspended all his voluntary commitments, in order to to avoid disrupting the activities of the organizations in which he was involved.

The Complainant admits consenting to the actions of which our client is charged, which occurred 25 years ago. Nor was there ever, in the context of this disclosure, any allegation of a relationship of authority between her and our client. It is therefore preferable to wait for the result of a verdict before forming a definitive opinion on these events, explained Me Le Borgne.

Éric Beaulieu contests the version of the vice-president of the Optimist Club, even though he would have participated in the organization's last fundraising activity three months ago.

“In the meantime, my client prefers to suspend his commitments within these organizations in order to avoid that their activities are disrupted by this story, and this, until #x27;on obtaining the verdict.

— Me Francis Le Borgne, lawyer for Éric Beaulieu

Me Francis Le Borgne represents Éric Beaulieu.

The lawyer also reminds that only a public and transparent trial will allow conclusions to be drawn on the basis of the charges.

In his LinkedIn profile, the accused also described himself as a member of the management committee of a summer scout camp in Estrie.

Like the Optimist Club and the Municipality of Acton Vale, no one among the administrators of the summer camp had heard until that day of the lawsuit against Éric Beaulieu.

We didn't know anything, because the camp hasn't had any activities since COVID in 2020. We are in the process of restarting it. We don't need this kind of publicity right now, said one of the administrators who did not hide his surprise on the phone.

This administrator wants to reassure his clientele: Éric Beaulieu has never had to go to the site to work on a voluntary basis.

I want to make this clear. With us, he was not in contact with any young people. He was the administrator of the website from his home. There was no possibility that anything could happen with a youngster. He attended meetings of the management committee, he said before concluding the interview by promising to do all the necessary checks.

No conditions, among those imposed upon his release, did not prohibit Éric Beaulieu from volunteering with youth organizations for the duration of the legal proceedings.

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