The engineer guilty of sexual assault, who received absolution so as not to harm his career, ended up losing his job as MPs denounced a “troubling” and “shocking” decision.
• Also read: He’s chasing a drunk friend: no criminal record for a sex-abusive engineer
“After #MeToo, after all the denunciation and awareness-raising work, it is extremely disturbing to read passages of this judgment,” Parti Québecois MP Véronique Hivon commented on social media, just before the Crown announced it would appeal the case .
Liberal MP Isabelle Melançon said she was “shocked, beyond angered, outraged” when she said the ruling “will eclipse and question women who want to lodge a complaint”.
Lack of judgement… from the judge?
Those reactions follow a decision by Trois-Rivières judge Matthieu Poliquin, who said Houle, 30, did not deserve a criminal record for his crime, which he committed during a drunken party when he was a student in 2019.
Not only had he assaulted a drunk friend, he had also photographed her private parts.
Charged with sexual assault and voyeurism, he had waited two years before pleading guilty.
“His arrest, his indictment and the delay of more than two years in considering the consequences […] are sufficiently dissuasive,” said the judge, reiterating that the alcohol consumed by Houle that evening “may allow behavior to be explained”.
In therapy, Houle had confided in having committed another aggression in the past, which was interpreted as “transparency.”
But despite the judge’s desire not to harm the sex offender’s career, he still lost his job on Tuesday.
“The company decided during a phone call to end his employment,” he said protocol Canimex Human Resources Vice President Michel Goulet.
The ruling also explained that his employer had already “pushed him aside” during the proceedings by preventing him from attending parties and company outings but keeping him teleworking.
However, Houle, who had said he wanted to remain an engineer, had said in court that he could change majors at some point.
“He has given a part-time legal testimony,” the judge continued.