A victim support organization laments that the court granted a discharge to an engineer who sexually assaulted an intoxicated woman on the pretext of not harming her career.
Simon Houle, who had also photographed the private parts of his victim, got away with it without a criminal record despite the seriousness of his actions.
“It's a judgment that seems to go against the current trend [to impose harsh sentences],” says Karine Gagnon, coordinator of the network of Centers for assistance to victims of criminal acts about the recent absolution obtained by the engineer at the Trois-Rivières courthouse.
Because if Houle's victim suffered serious consequences, Houle got off with a slap on the wrist for his crime in April 2019, when he was a mechanical engineering student. At a drunken party, he sexually assaulted his intoxicated friend, while photographing her.
“Nine photos were recovered from [the bin of] the accused’s cellphone,” explained the judge.
The victim suffered several devastating psychological consequences, which even led to hospitalization. This affected her school career, not to mention that she had to stop working for five months, causing her financial difficulties.
And during this time…
Houle, for his part, remained free during the legal process, which allowed him to finish his studies and find a job. He finally pleaded guilty to sexual assault and voyeurism last November.
However, if the Crown demanded 18 months of incarceration, Houle rather wanted an absolution, saying “to regret his actions enormously”. He said he was so ashamed that he hid the accusations from his family, but had since come to his senses by undergoing therapy.
Matthieu Poliquin, Judge
During this one, he had moreover confided that he had already committed a similar act in the past, which was seen by Judge Matthieu Poliquin as a example of “transparency”.
“He is usually a person who helps and supports others, not a person who attacks them. His arrest, his indictment and the delay of more than two years to think about the consequences […] are sufficiently dissuasive”, commented the magistrate.
Recalling that the attack had taken place “all in all quickly”; the judge added that Houle was also intoxicated and that this “may help explain a behavior”.
But above all, a criminal record would have jeopardized Houle's career as an engineer, insisted the magistrate.
“He could hardly travel outside the country,” he noted in ordering the discharge, conditional on three years probation and a donation of $6,000 to a victims' aid organization.
Houlle's lawyer did not wish to comment on the case, which should be appealed by the Crown.
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Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my email@example.com 1-800-268-7128