The credibility of the testimony of ex-MP Harold LeBel attacked on several fronts
“I explained everything without hiding anything, nothing nothing nothing,” said Harold LeBel in cross-examination Monday afternoon.
After delivering his testimony Monday morning, Harold LeBel, accused of sexual assault, had to answer many questions from the prosecution in this second week of trial at the Rimouski courthouse.
Did you tell them the truth, the police? asked Me Jérôme Simard in cross-examination Monday afternoon, referring to the interrogation of the police after the arrest of the former deputy, on December 15, 2020.
I said what I thought I remember [sic], I tried to answer as honestly as possible, with the level of stress…, started Harold LeBel.
You didn't know if they [the complainant and her friend] had slept one night or two? continued Me Simard, counsel for the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP).
When I thought back afterwards, it was two evenings, replied the accused , who insisted on the state he was in the morning of his arrest. He said he was woken up by the police at 6:45 a.m., they sat down at his table and he told them what he remembered despite the mounting stress.
“I explained everything without hiding anything, nothing nothing nothing. »
— Harold LeBel
The prosecution argued that the officers did not break down his door, but instead rang his condo's intercom and let him have coffee at his place before taking him to the station.
The accused repeated several times that he had been surprised by this visit that morning. The DPCP lawyer recalled that he had nevertheless read the famous email where [the complainant] explained to him what she had experienced.
I read the email, but I didn't expect this, he replied.
The ex-MP also said he suffered from claustrophobia and that at the police station he had been locked in a small room. I was overwhelmed by events. He recounted telling the police: I will die if you leave me here alone.
He also indicated that during his interrogation, when he had a very, very high level of stress, a very, very high level of anxiety, the police tried to make him say things that he did not want to say, without however being able to give an example of these attempts.
“When I read this today [ the verbatim of his meeting with the police], apart from the surprise and being locked in a cubicle, there are cases that it's not that, it's not like that…”
The lawyer was surprised, in the form of a question, that his interlocutor believed that he had a better memory five years after the events (during the trial) than three years later (during police interrogation).
I spoke to the police for a long time, I answered to the best of my knowledge. […] I refused a lawyer. […] I was made to understand that it was very serious what I was going through there, and in the end, the police, they were afraid that I was going to kill myself.
If I had to do it over again, I would have taken my time, I would have taken my lawyer, added Mr. LeBel.
Lawyer for the Prosecution questioned the accused on the fact that he had told the police that he had blacked out that night.
I do not remember when I was sleeping. I fell asleep, limited himself to saying Harold LeBel.
Me Jérôme Simard then recalled that the accused had said he did not remember anything in an email sent to the complainant and that he had written this: This is an evening of alcohol that I wish I had never known.
It's an evening of alcohol because we had alcohol at my table, at three, replied the witness on the stand.
And why did you text him the next day, thank you for letting me stick with you?, asked Me Simard. I was not comfortable, I just wanted to make sure that everything was correct, it's not more complicated than that, said Harold LeBel.
The lawyer again insisted on the words let you stick, but the accused repeated the same words while remaining evasive.
“You are a politician , you know the importance of words. »
— Me Jérôme Simard, lawyer for the prosecution
In addition, the former deputy clarified the content of the kiss he says he exchanged with the alleged victim for 20 to 30 seconds. We both walked over, we both kissed, that's all.
20 to 30 seconds for a kiss, isn't that long?, asked the lawyer. I did not calculate, replied Harold LeBel. You said, however, that you backed off fairly quickly, retorted Me Simard, referring to his Monday morning testimony.
The prosecution returned to the moment, after said kiss, where the alleged victim said he locked himself in the bathroom.
Harold LeBel said that after two or three minutes he went to see if he was okay. After two or three minutes, were you worried? Why did you go to the door? Did you have something to blame yourself for?, launched the DPCP lawyer.
I wanted to be sure that everything was correct, because she had had a few drinks, replied the witness, who specified that he did not remain in front of the door, contrary to what the complainant alleges.
Faced with the decision that Harold LeBel said he had to make to go to bed alongside the plaintiff rather than alongside the other person who was sleeping in her bed, the prosecution noted that he had told the police that it was dangerous on the right side [of her room] and less dangerous to go to the left side [where the Murphy bed was where the complainant was].
The defendant replied that he used these terms because he believed it was dangerous to go to bed near the friend of the woman he was dating at the time.
Me Simard also pointed out that the other witness had already slept at the ex-MP's condo, alone or with other people.
Cons -questioning will continue Tuesday morning at the Rimouski courthouse.
Early in his testimony Monday morning, Harold LeBel denied unhooking the bra, stroking the buttocks or inserting a finger into the complainant's anus, contrary to what the alleged victim claimed. last week.
The accused said that during this evening, they would have consumed four or five glasses of gin and tonic. I prepared the first ones, that's for sure. Would [the other witness] have made others? This I do not know. He still believes that they had all similarly consumed the same amount of alcohol.
I was feeling. I weigh 250 pounds, if not 260, he added, mentioning that it would have taken him more cocktails to consider himself drunk.
Mr. LeBel, however, admitted that he and the complainant allegedly kissed while sitting shoulder-to-shoulder at his kitchen table. According to his statements, they both subsequently backed away before the alleged victim went to the bathroom.
He also denied having tried to force the door of the bathroom of his condo, where the complainant recounted having locked herself in October 2017, the evening when the facts allegedly occurred.
When the complainant's friend went to bed, Harold LeBel says he was discussing with the alleged victim, among other things, how their professional lives were complicating their respective love lives.
< p class="e-p">I had someone in my life… who I love very much, I wish it had gone further, but my life was not compatible […], I was frustrated with that.
“We had a discussion that got kinder, more emotional, about our lives and stuff. And we kissed. ”
— Harold LeBel
It happened quickly, he says. I was surprised, because I wasn't expecting that, I didn't force anything. We backed up and were like, “No, no.” […] We weren't there, we didn't want to do that.
He then indicated that when the Complainant got up to go to the bathroom, he began to think that it was taking a long time and became concerned.
According his words, he went near the door to inquire about the state of the complainant without, however, trying to open the door. I go in front of the bathroom, I ask her how you are, she answers: "Yes yes, I am fine."
She then allegedly exited the bathroom and walked past him after showering and changing. I asked him again, “How are you?” She said `"Yes yes, that's fine."
Harold LeBel would then himself have gone to the bathroom to wash himself without taking a shower.
The accused recounted the choice he had to make since he wanted to sleep. [The other witness] was already in my room, she had been there for an hour and a half. I have a girl in my bed there, a girl in the [Murphy] bed there, I had a decision to make. I said to myself: "What am I doing?"
He explained that he didn't want to go to bed in the same bed as the other witness because she was a good friend of his ex-spouse and he didn't want to mix things up.
He then asked the complainant's permission to lie down on the Murphy bed. Because you don't fit in a woman's bed without asking permission, he told Me Roy, who asked for clarification.
“I lay down, dressed, on my back. […] I just wanted to lie down next to her to sleep. ”
— Harold LeBel
The former MP then said that he regretted not having asked the complainant to join her friend in the room, or the opposite, so that he can sleep alone.
Again questioned about the alleged assault by his lawyer, he maintained that he had never ever done that. He said he fell asleep quickly.
The next morning, the other witness allegedly walked over to the Murphy bed and woke them up, indicating that she and the complainant were in a hurry and that the hour of their departure was approaching.
When the accused woke up, he would have had his nose near the complainant's hair and his hand on her shoulder. I backed up right away, I wasn't comfortable being there like that.
I wasn't there, I backed off… How can I put it… I was not comfortable.
He would not have had time to discuss this discomfort with the complainant since she left her condo quickly.< /p>
As for the exchange of text messages that took place in the morning, he explained that he not only wanted to tell her that he had appreciated her visit but also to tell her that he was not comfortable with the fact that he had woken up pressed against her.
When, in 2020, more than two and a half years after the events, the complainant sent him an email describing all that which she claimed happened that night, the defendant recounted a quick response: I couldn't believe I was reading that, I fell out of my chair.
Why didn't you write to him I've never done that? Asked his lawyer. That's what I wanted to say…. But I answered like someone who wanted to understand what she meant.
If I said it was wrong, I couldn't go talk to her afterwards.
My heart was struggling, he said. I should have taken this and shown this to a lawyer.
Harold LeBel also recounted having received threatening, aggressive text messages from a relative of the complainant, messages that alluded to the alleged events, and that it was at this time that he sought answers from 'she. I asked him, “Why is he telling me these things?” I did not understand.
Before bringing his client back on his political journey, Me Roy pointed out the presence of several relatives of Harold LeBel in the courtroom since the start of the trial. He asked her to specify who was accompanying him on Monday.
The accused turned to the audience, explaining to the jury that he had been accompanied by his two sisters since the start of the trial and that many friends were present in the room. He also underlined the presence of his former girlfriend, someone very important to me, he said with emotion.
Me Maxime Roy then asked his client why he did not run in the provincial elections this year. The accused explained that he did not see himself doing it, that he would have been obliged, at any opportunity, to defend himself in this story.
“I would have hurt my team, I would have hurt the voters of Rimouski. ”
— Harold LeBel
The former MP added that he preferred to focus on the trial to make it go well. It hurt my heart not to introduce myself.