Social welfare is demanding part of the money they have won in a lawsuit against their attacker

Social welfare is demanding part of the money they have won in a lawsuit against their attacker

A man whose life was ruined by sexual assault in the 1990s must fight welfare workers who want half of the meager sum he received after a civil suit.

“It’s like the government condones the crime [en allant piger dans cet argent]’ deplores Donald Gélinas, 47, who is appealing a decision on welfare in the Administrative Court of Quebec (TAQ).

The Shawinigan resident was 16 when his life was turned upside down.

His karate instructor Mario Lajoie sexually assaulted him several times in 1991. Lajoie pleaded guilty to these crimes in 1993 and was sentenced to six months in prison.

Mario Lajoie was also sentenced by a civil court in 2019 to pay Donald Gélinas $225,000.

To date, Mr. Gélinas has received just over $24,000 of the amount owed. After paying his attorneys at the time, he was left with just $16,624.

Of that amount, Social Security is now claiming $7,015.

“It discourages service providers from initiating civil proceedings if [poursuivre quelqu’un]It takes a lot of courage,” explains Jimmy Lambert, Mr Gélinas’ current lawyer.

Mr. Gélinas dreamed of becoming a doctor. Due to psychological problems in connection with the assaults, he broke off his studies in actuarial mathematics. He has been a welfare recipient for more than 20 years.

Between 1993 and 2001 he was hospitalized eleven times, as we can read in the 2019 verdict.

He mentions a diagnosis of schizophrenia, “nightmarish emotions,” a suicide attempt.

“The expert evidence establishes a sufficient causal connection between the plaintiff’s illness and the assaults,” the judge said in his decision.

Out of the $225,000 total, the judge awarded him $100,000 in moral damages to compensate for his suffering and the impact on his mental health and life.

The Ministère de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale (MESS) can request the reimbursement of social assistance amounts, but not of amounts received for psychological or physical damage.

MESS considers that the amount received from Mr. Gélinas constitutes a mixture of non-pecuniary damages, compensation for loss of income and punitive damages.

However, Mr. Gélinas is far from having received the $100,000 in moral damages due. MESS could have considered the $16,624 as psychological damage suffered and therefore could not have asked for anything, Me Lambert explains.

It was not possible to reach Mario Lajoie to find out why he only paid $225,000 that he had to pay his victim. But according to our information, the $24,000 paid is the proceeds from the sale of the only asset he owned that could have been confiscated by bailiffs at the time.

Donald Gélinas’ hearing date before the TAQ should be set in the coming months.

“The aim is to set a precedent so that something like this doesn’t happen again with someone else,” concludes Mr. Gélinas.

For its part, the MESS points out that it cannot comment on certain situations, especially as the case is before the court.