While the Crown demanded 18 months in prison, Simon Houle was granted a conditional discharge.
< p class="e-p">“Disproportionate and unfounded”. This is how the Association of Defense Lawyers (AQAAD) describes certain reactions to the decision of a judge of the Court of Quebec to offer a conditional discharge. to Simon Houle, guilty of sexual assault.
The Association and its president, Me Marie-Pier Boulet, go to the front to defend Judge Matthieu Poliquin, under the fire of strong criticism since Radio-Canada made public the details of its judgment, handed down last month.
By press release, Me Boulet denounces the spirit of revenge which, according to her, animates the many reactions, which sometimes go as far as calls for resignation. She criticizes the commentators for obscuring many passages of the judgment which, according to her, denounce the behavior of the accused and [emphasize] the importance of denouncing a sexual assault.
“Sentencing does not serve to inflict consequences as great as those experienced by the victim, which would be illusory. »
— Marie-Pier Boulet, President of the Defense Lawyers Association
Recall that Judge Poliquin granted Simon Houle a conditional discharge, since x27;he felt that his job as an engineer required traveling abroad, and therefore a criminal record would harm his career.
To justify his decision, the judge also mentioned the accused's drunkenness, which he believed could explain his behavior, and the total duration of the sexual assault in question, which took place all in all quickly. Words that have made organizations that defend victims of sexual violence jump.
According to Marie-Pier Boulet, the judge's reasoning was justified. Imposing a sentence is a complex and sometimes perilous exercise, she writes. This exercise implies that the judge must be interested in all the factors surrounding the commission of the offence. Discussing the duration of the assault is part of it.
She maintains, however, that this finding did not have the effect of reducing the seriousness of the acts committed.
< p class="e-p">The president of AQAAD believes that it is permissible to disagree with the decision rendered, but she wants the debate on its validity to take place before an appeal tribunal , and not in the public square. To appeal a judgment is to criticize it in an organized framework conducive to healthy and rational debate, she writes.
The Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP) has already announced his decision to appeal the judgment.
Me Boulet sees in the reproaches and calls for dismissal made against the judge a danger for the judicial independence, an important foundation of democracy.
“Every Canadian citizen must be able to rely on a free justice, free from any outside interest or influence. This principle of independence concerns both the institution itself and those who apply its rules, i.e. the judges. »
— Me Marie-Pier Boulet, President of AQAAD
In her press release, Me Marie-Pier Boulet underlines that, according to her, the The spirit of revenge does not animate the victim in this case.
The victim [says] that he wishes for recovery; as much for herself as for the accused, affirms Me Boulet.
The name of the victim of Simon Houle has not been made public since his identity is stamped with #x27;a publication ban. At the time of the events, she was considered a friend of Simon Houle.
The assault occurred while the victim was asleep at a party in an apartment . The accused then undressed her, introduced fingers into her vagina before taking nine photos of her private parts.
Simon Houle pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault and voyeurism two years after the fact.
For Me Marie-Pier Boulet, the sentence handed down by Judge Poliquin is not the result of #x27;a contest of pain or repercussions. According to her, no judgment on the sentence can claim to erase all the consequences of a crime.
With information from Geneviève Garon