The absolution of Simon Houle debated in the Court of Appeal

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The absolution by Simon Houle debated in the Court of Appeal

While the Crown was asking for 18 months in prison, Simon Houle was granted a conditional discharge.

The Court of Appeal has reserved the case of engineer Simon Houle, 31, who received a discharge after having sexually assaulted a woman and took pictures of her private parts in 2019 in Trois-Rivières.

The absolution is not appropriate, pleaded Friday the criminal and penal prosecuting attorney, Ève-Lyne Goulet, who believes that the aggravating circumstances of Simon Houle's crimes were underestimated by the judge who gave him granted conditional discharge.

Insisting on the seriousness of the crimes committed by the aggressor, the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP) demands that the Court of Appeal instead impose a prison sentence of 15 to 18 months, in recalling the significant psychological sequelae of the victim.

On April 19, 2019, Simon Houle sexually assaulted a sleeping, intoxicated friend of hers at an apartment party. He immortalized his attack as evidenced by the nine particularly intrusive photos found in his cell phone, which establish that the crimes took place for at least 24 minutes in three different rooms, a sign of the relentlessness of the aggressor.

24 minutes during which the Respondent was opportunistic and fully aware of the inadequacy of his actions, according to Mr. Goulet, not counting the 44 days during which the photos remained accessible on his cell phone, before being seized by the police.

A duration that is not fast, she mentioned, criticizing Judge Matthieu Poliquin of the Court of Quebec, who wrote in his judgment that the facts had taken place quickly, a vision misconception that minimizes aggression, according to the DPCP.

Being a respectable person and appreciated by those around you is not a guarantee that you are not will not attack, affirms Me Goulet, who denounces that the judge motivated the absolution by the fact that Simon Houle is a person of good character.

The 30-year-old has also admitted to having sexually assaulted another woman in 2015 in similar circumstances, but without ever having been charged. While Judge Poliquin saw it as a sign of transparency, the DPCP believes that it is rather an aggravating circumstance which militates in favor of a severe sentence.

A punctual gesture, which lasted a certain moment and arrived at a certain time. This is how Simon Houle's lawyer, Pierre Spain, described his client's crimes, wishing to distinguish the assault from other cases that spanned years, months .

According to Me Spain, the discharge was appropriate for his client of good character, who pleaded guilty and avoided a trial, and whose risk recidivism is considered low.

Cooked by the Court of Appeal judges, he acknowledged that no evidence was filed to show that a criminal record would prevent the engineer from traveling for his work. This is not of judicial knowledge, insisted Judge Guy Gagnon.

Concerning the non-judicial assault of 2015 revealed by Simon Houle, his lawyer believes that x27;we cannot draw any inference from this situation since we have no idea in what context it happened.

We know that the victim was sleeping, that there was touching on the clothes …, replied judge Suzanne Gagné. Is there a context that justifies this? asked Judge Gagnon, pointing out that this is a presumed criminal act.

According to Me Spain, the great “mediatization” of the file, due to the leniency of the sentence, helped send a message of deterrence against sexual assault. A statement that seemed absurd to the judges of the Court of Appeal. I'm going to make the sentence less severe, so that the media will report on it and take care of the denunciation? That's it?, Judge Gagnon quipped.

After a short deliberation, the Court of Appeal put the case under advisement; a decision should be rendered in the coming months.

Simon Houle will also be back before the Court of Quebec in February, after being accused of not having respected the conditions of his probation for allegedly grabbing a woman's buttocks without her consent last summer in Cuba.

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