Sex attacker gets discharge to preserve his career
Simon Houle pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault and voyeurism.
A Trois-Rivières engineer who sexually assaulted a woman and took pictures of her private parts is granted a conditional discharge to allow him to travel for his work. The decision is strongly denounced by organizations that support the victims.
In April 2019, Simon Houle, then a mechanical engineering student at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières, sexually assaulted one of his friends at a party in an apartment. The woman, who is sleeping in a bedroom, is awakened by the light of a camera. She feels fingers in her vagina moving back and forth. Her camisole is up and her bra is open. Nine photos of his private parts are found in his attacker's cell phone.
More than two years later, the engineer pleaded guilty to sexual assault charges and voyeurism.
While the Crown was asking for 18 months in prison, Judge Matthieu Poliquin, of the Court of Quebec, instead gave him a conditional discharge, in a decision handed down last month.
He believes that the consequences of a criminal record would be disproportionate, since the court is convinced that the work of an engineer requires travel to other countries. Note that Simon Houle, who has had the same employer since 2018, has never had to travel for his job.
In his therapy that began shortly after the charges, Simon Houle admitted to having sexually assaulted another woman in the past, without being charged. This admission, although troubling according to the judge, demonstrates his desire for transparency and the seriousness of his therapy.
Judge Poliquin notes that the accused greatly regrets the actions taken, has pleaded guilty and feels so ashamed that he did not inform his father and brothers of the charges against him.
Even if it underlines the intrusive and serious nature of the crimes committed on a victim in a state of great vulnerability, the court specifies that the aggression took place after all quickly. The drunkenness of Simon Houle, without being a justification, still makes it possible to explain a behavior, according to the judge.
Joints by Radio -Canada, Simon Houle and his lawyer, Pierre Spain, declined to comment on the case.
Simon Houle, who undertook a part-time certificate in law, has demonstrated that he is a person of good character and that his crimes are contextual and punctual in his life, can we read in the decision.
The engineer therefore benefits from a conditional discharge, accompanied by three years' probation. Anxious not to trivialize the actions taken, the judge ordered him to donate $6,000 to the Center for Help and the Fight against Sexual Assault (CALACS) in Trois-Rivières.
Simon Houle had a history of impaired driving in 2014.
A close friend of the victim, who has also known Simon Houle for several years, says he is enraged that the attacker did not receive a harsher sentence. Everyone fell to the ground […] he has nothing, it's incredible, he drops in an interview with Radio-Canada. The man requested anonymity so as not to identify the complainant, whose identity is subject to a publication ban.
We were disconcerted, we were angry, we were saddened for the victim, for all the victims, says Camille Souza, from CALACS in Trois-Rivières. A decision like that is unfair to the victim since she is once again defending the aggressor.
The Victim Support Center of Criminal Acts (CAVAC) believes that the judgment does not respect the spirit of the report Rebuilding Trustsupposed to focus on the welfare of the victims. Coordinator Karine Gagnon fears that such a decision will undermine victims' confidence in the justice system. When a victim hears this kind of thing […] it can put a stop [to her filing a complaint].
The message about the status social security of an abuser would be subtle and pernicious, according to University of Oxford law PhD student Suzanne Zaccour.
The accused grew up in a good family, he will benefit society from the fact that he will become an engineer and therefore he is given a conditional discharge, she says. However, if an accused came from a more disadvantaged background or had a less prestigious career, he would not have this card to say ''my career is important and I cannot have of court file''.
Canimex, which employs Simon Houle, is concerned about the judgment, according to the vice-president of human resources, Michel Goulet. Note that the engineer is forced by his employer to remain in telework and cannot participate in social activities with his colleagues.
The Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions will announce to the over the next few days if he appeals the decision.
Joined by Radio-Canada, Simon Houle and his lawyer, Pierre Spain, refused to comment on the case.< /p>