While the Crown was asking for 18 months in prison, Simon Houle was able to benefit from a conditional discharge.
“Excessive and unfounded”. This is how the Association of Defense Lawyers (AQAAD) describes certain reactions to the decision of a judge of the Court of Quebec to offer a conditional discharge. to Simon Houle, guilty of sexual assault.
The Association and its president, Me Marie-Pier Boulet, are stepping up to defend Judge Matthieu Poliquin, under heavy criticism since Radio-Canada made public the details of his judgment, handed down last month.
By press release, Me Boulet denounces the spirit of vengeance which, according to her, animates the many reactions, which sometimes go as far as calls for resignation. She criticizes the commentators for obscuring many passages of the judgment which, according to her, denounce the behavior of the accused and [emphasize] the importance of denouncing a sexual assault.
“Sentencing does not serve to inflict consequences as great as those experienced by the victim, which would be illusory. »
— Marie-Pier Boulet, President of the Association of Defense Lawyers
In an interview with Radio-Canada after the publication of her press release, she specifies that it was the numerous reactions online, some of which compared the judge to the aggressor, which motivated her to speak.
< p class="e-p">She specifies that she expresses herself with empathy, but still wants to call for calm. We can consider that [the sentence] is lenient. It's one thing, and there can be useful discussions around it. […] When you attack a judge […], that's where you overflow in my opinion, she said.
Recall that Judge Poliquin gave Simon Houle a conditional discharge, since he believed that his job as an engineer required travel abroad and therefore that a criminal record would harm his career.
To justify his decision, the judge also mentioned the accused's drunkenness, which he believed could explain his behavior, and the total duration of the sexual assault in question, which all in all happened quickly. Words that have made organizations defending victims of sexual violence jump.
“Law is not math. It's not an exact science. The judge may have an opinion which may not be shared by another judge and may not be shared by the general population. »
— Marie-Pier Boulet, in an interview with Radio-Canada
According to Marie-Pier Boulet, the judge's reasoning was justified. Imposing a sentence is a complex and sometimes perilous exercise, she writes. This exercise implies that the judge must be interested in all the factors surrounding the commission of the offence. Discussing the duration of the assault is part of it.
In interview, she insists: The judge respected the parameters he had to respect, she claims , recalling that a conditional discharge is an available sentence for a charge of sexual assault.
The president of AQAAD believes that it is permissible to disagree with the decision rendered, but she wants the debate on its validity to take place in a court of law. x27; call and not in the public square. To appeal a judgment is to criticize it in an organized framework conducive to a healthy and rational debate, she writes.
The Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP) has already announced its decision to appeal the judgment.
In an interview with Radio-Canada, Me Marie-Pier Boulet affirms that it is necessary for the public to understand the points of right raised by the judgment.
Me Boulet sees the reproaches and calls for dismissal made against the judge as a danger to judicial independence, an important foundation of democracy.
“Every Canadian citizen must be able to rely on free justice, free from any outside interest or influence. This principle of independence concerns both the institution itself and those who apply its rules, i.e. the judges. »
— Me Marie-Pier Boulet, President of AQAAD
It is above all the reactions of the political class that surprise her. She believes that elected officials should better understand the issues of the separation of powers and avoid commenting on the work of a judge, at the risk of undermining the credibility of the justice system in the eyes of the public.
< p class="e-p">In her press release, Me Marie-Pier Boulet underlines that, according to her, the spirit of revenge does not animate the victim in this case, an aspect on which the judge insists in his decision.
The victim [said] to wish for recovery, as much for herself as for the accused, affirms Me Boulet.
The name of the victim of Simon Houle does not have been made public since his identity is subject to a publication ban. At the time of the events, she was considered a friend of Simon Houle.
The assault occurred while the victim was asleep at a party in an apartment . The accused then undressed her, introduced fingers into her vagina before taking nine photos of her private parts.
Simon Houle pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault and voyeurism two years after the fact.
For Me Marie-Pier Boulet, the sentence handed down by Judge Poliquin is not the result of #x27;a contest of pain or repercussions. According to her, no judgment on the sentence can claim to erase all the consequences of a crime.
With information from Geneviève Garon