A victim support organization complains that the court pardoned an engineer who sexually abused a drunk woman under the pretense of not harming her career.
Simon Houle, who also photographed his victim’s private parts, does so with no criminal record despite the seriousness of his crimes.
“It’s a ruling that seems to go against the current trend [d’imposer des sentences sévères] says Karine Gagnon, coordinator of the network of support centers for crime victims, on the recent dismissal of the engineer at the Trois-Rivières courthouse.
Because if Houle’s victim faced serious consequences, Houle got away with a slap in the face for his crime committed in April 2019 while he was a mechanical engineering student. At a drunk party, he sexually assaulted his drunk girlfriend while he was photographing her.
“Nine photos were recovered [la corbeille du] the defendant’s mobile phone,” the judge explained.
The victim suffered several devastating psychological consequences, even resulting in hospitalization. This affected his school career, in addition to a five-month hiatus from work that left him in financial difficulties.
For his part, Houle remained at large during the trial, which allowed him to finish his studies and find a job. He finally pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault and voyeurism last November.
However, when the Crown asked for 18 months in prison, Houle would rather have absolution, saying he was “hugely sorry for his actions”. He said he was so ashamed that he had hidden the allegations from his family, but has since come to his senses through therapy.
Matthieu Poliquin, judge
He also confided that he had made a similar gesture in the past, which judge Matthieu Poliquin considered an example of “transparency”.
“He’s usually a person who helps and supports others, not attacks them. His arrest, his indictment and the delay of more than two years in considering the consequences […] sufficiently dissuasive,” the judge commented.
Noting that the attack happened “quickly overall,” the judge added that Houle was also drunk and that “could explain the behavior.”
Above all, however, a criminal record would have jeopardized Houle’s career as an engineer, the judge emphasized.
“He could barely travel outside the country,” he noted as he ordered a release conditional on three years’ probation and a $6,000 donation to a victims’ charity.
Houle’s lawyer declined to comment on the case, which is set to be appealed by the Crown.
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