Engineer who sexually abused drunk girlfriend and also took nude photos of her should never have gotten away with a criminal record, appeals court decisions and orders him to serve a year behind bars.
• Also read: Absolution by Simon Houle: The Crown is asking for 18 months in prison on appeal
“A reasonable man […] would not understand that Simon Houle could escape conviction,” said three judges of Quebec’s highest court unanimously on Wednesday.
For the Québec regrouping of centers for help and fight against sexual assault, this decision is “very positive”. The Crime Victim Assistance Centers (CAVAC) are also delighted with the outcome of the case, following the outcry that absolution sparked among the population.
Photo from Simon Houle’s Facebook profile
The absolution that the engineer Simon Houle had obtained in order not to damage his career had caused an outcry among the population.
“It was necessary to review this decision, in the interests of the victim, who must have felt abandoned by the judiciary, but also to reassure the public,” commented coordinator Marie-Christine Villeneuve.
Simon Houle, 31, must therefore report to prison to pay for his crime committed during a party in Trois-Rivières in April 2019.
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Taking advantage of the fact that a friend was drunk, he sexually assaulted her and also took several photos, which he kept on his phone for 44 days until a friend discovered them.
“Mr Houle has violated a sphere of privacy [de la victime] which is essential to safeguarding his human dignity,” the Court of Appeal recalled.
Crucial errors of the judge
And if Judge Matthieu Poliquin described the sexual assault as “quick all things considered,” it was not so, it added.
“What the judge described was not quick,” the verdict said on Wednesday.
The appeals court added, criticizing the trial judge for crucial errors that led him to acquit the perpetrator of the sexual assault.
“The judge appears to have lost sight of the element of voyeurism in setting the sentence,” the three Quebec-based appellate judges noted, while regretting that “the relentlessness of Mr. Houle [sur la victime] does not appear in the list of aggravating factors” that he considered.
In prison until Monday
Houle, who has until Monday to appear, declined to comment on the case. He’s not finished with the judiciary, since he also has to defend himself against a breach of probation.
Shortly after receiving absolution last June, he flew to Cuba, where he would have grabbed the buttocks of a Quebecer while on vacation.
After returning home, the woman made a complaint to the police, which led to a new charge.
WHAT YOU SAID
“The judges of the courts of first instance will not be able to escape the principles resulting from this decision of the court of appeal. You cannot oppose this decision.
-Nicole Gibault, retired judge
“We welcome the appeals court’s recognition of the aggression and that Houle is facing consequences commensurate with the seriousness of his actions. It’s not just a slap on the wrist.”
-Justine Chénier, communications director for the Quebec Regrouping of Sexual Assault Centers (RQCALACS)
“Trust was badly shaken. People were shocked by this decision, it was necessary to review it.”
-Marie-Christine Villeneuve, Coordinator of Crime Victim Support Centers (CAVAC)
“The actions he’s committed to [la victime] cannot be equated with a youthful defect or a misadventure”
– Excerpt from yesterday’s judgment of the Court of Appeal
“By photographing the most intimate parts of the victim’s body without his knowledge, Mr. Houle violated an area of his private life that is essential to upholding his human dignity.”
– Another excerpt from the judgment
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