Patrick Chénard at the Rimouski courthouse during the sentencing, July 15, 2022 (archives).
After receiving a prison sentence of 6 years and 3 months on July 15, the former massage therapist and kinesiologist Patrick Chénard, found guilty of sexual assault, regains his freedom.
Judge Suzanne Gagné accepted the motion filed by defense counsel on July 20. Me Tristan Desjardins requested the release of his client until the Court of Appeal had ruled on his guilty verdict.
In his motion, Mr. Desjardins argued that the former massage therapist complied with all of his release conditions during his last release, which preceded his sentencing.
During the hearing that took place on July 29, Judge Gagné justified her decision by invoking mainly two factors: the fact that Patrick Chénard had respected the conditions that had been imposed on him until then, and the fact that public confidence in the justice system was not likely to be undermined by his release.
She pointed out that Mr. Chenard was released for most of the court process. He never failed to appear in court and […] he was not charged with breach of recognizance, the judge said.
The fact that Patrick Chénard's living environment is stable, that he has lived with his spouse for ten years and that his parents are also in Rimouski was also considered. In this context, the appellant persuades me that, if released pending appeal, he will give himself up in accordance with the terms of the order, can we read in the judgment.
According to his conditions of release, Patrick Chénard cannot practice massage therapy and kinesiology, which, according to Judge Gagné, will neutralize the risk that the Rimouskois' release could present.
For all the reasons, it considers that the detention of Mr. Chénard is not necessary in the public interest.
The ex- massage therapist and kinesiologist must however respect several conditions.
Keep the peace, have good conduct and be present in Court when required;
Do not change residential address;
Refrain from offering or engaging in voluntary or paid massage therapy, physiotherapy or any other massage therapy technique;
Not to communicate or attempt to communicate directly or indirectly with complainants;
Not to be less 50 meters from plaintiffs;
Not be within 100 meters of the complainants' place of residence and places of work and/or study;
Not leave Canada.
As for the victims, some of them feel like they are playing yo-yo.
One of them indicates that she is not so surprised by the news. Honestly, I saw a hidden number on my phone and the first thing I thought was ''well, the CAVAC is calling me to tell me he's released.''
“It hurts like news, it's annoying, but it's so rubbish that I just, at the limit, pushed a laugh in discouragement.
—one of Patrick Chénard's victims
Another complainant confirms that the victims had been groomed for future release.
Me Morneau-Deschênes had met with us after the sentencing, to tell us that there was a chance that Patrick Chénard would be released pending the new guilty verdict.
A third victim is saddened by the release of her attacker and wonders about the importance given to the safety of the victims in this story. It's been more than four years that we victims have lived with the constant stress of meeting him in society or that he makes new victims.
“I've been imprisoned since the day he assaulted me. »
— Victim of Patrick Chénard
The date of the appeal of the guilty verdict is not yet known, but Judge Suzanne Gagné believes that the case can proceed quickly.