Quebec’s victim group was surprised after a man got a conditional discharge due to sexual assault

A crime victim advocacy group expressed concern on Tuesday after a Quebec man was granted a conditional dismissal in a sexual assault case. This is because the judge felt that the conviction could undermine a man’s career.

Marie Christine Villeneuve of the Center for Victims of Crime said she was worried that light text would discourage victims and hesitate to report sexual assault.

“If you are a victim of this type of decision, you may be afraid to turn to legal proceedings, file a complaint, and really get justice at the end of this proceeding.” She said. In an interview.

According to her, the ruling seems to go against the current trend of being “directed to concerns about victims at the heart of legal proceedings.”

In a June ruling, a judge in the Quebec Court of Trois Rivieres, Quebec, opted for probation and conditional discharge of Simon Houle, as the conviction could make it difficult for Houle to travel as an engineer. After assaulting her acquaintance in 2019 last year and taking pictures of intimate parts of her body while she was asleep, he pleaded guilty to sexual assault and voyeurism. He was 27 at the time.

The victim drank overnight at the bar with a group of friends, fell asleep at a friend’s house, and then found Houle attacking her with his finger and said, “I woke up with the light of the camera. “. According to a court ruling, her shirt was lifted and her bra was loosened.

The woman “hurriedly” went to the kitchen, where the accused chased her and put her back in bed. A search on his cell phone will later reveal that he took nine pictures.

Judge Matthieu Poliquin discovered that as a result of the assault, the victim suffered serious harm, including anger, shame, fear of seeing the accused, and impact on school, work, and personal life. She was also vulnerable to the fact that she was asleep consuming alcohol, her decision said.

However, the judge said the assault had occurred “as a whole quickly” and added that Houle took the treatment seriously and deeply regretted his actions.

“Judgments other than discharge will have a significant impact on his career as an engineer,” the judge wrote. “This profession needs to travel around the world,” he added, admitting that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Houle did not yet have to travel from his employer.

Houle admitted that he had assaulted another person in 2015 during treatment. The judge said the hospitalization was a concern, but he also said he had shown a “desire for transparency.” No claims were made as a result of the 2015 incident.

Houle was also convicted of drunk driving in 2014, but never convicted of violent crime.

Mr. Polykin said Houle had a low risk of recidivism and was doing a compelling rehabilitation. “It is a general benefit for the defendant, a social asset, to be able to continue his professional career,” the judge wrote.

If you are found guilty but not convicted as long as certain conditions are met, you can be granted conditional discharge. Houle will have to pay $ 6,000 to the victim support group after three years of probation.

If he meets the conditions, he avoids a permanent criminal record.

The Quebec Public Prosecutor’s Office says it aims to appeal the judge’s decision in the coming weeks.

Houle’s ruling, first reported by Radio-Canada, caused an avalanche of online comments condemning the decision.

Villeneuve may be disappointed by some, but it’s important to remember that the verdict is only one decision and the legal system is the only way to heal victims. Said that.

Courts have traditionally not invited survivors of sexual assault, but she said that attempts to rebuild trust through the implementation of professional sexual assault courts are underway. Villeneuve added that her organization exists to assist the victim, whether or not the victim makes a formal complaint.

Morgan Raleigh

Canadian press