Acquitted after child abuse

A man convicted of sexually assaulting a three-year-old child was acquitted by the Court of Appeal, which ruled that his confession, made during therapy, should have been protected by professional secrecy.

Olivier Chatillon, 37, does not have to serve the 18-month sentence handed down by a judge on May 20, 2021. He had confessed to rubbing his erect penis on his underwear and on the tongue of a three-year-old child he was babysitting during two separate assaults.

However, the context in which he made those confessions while in therapy at the Philippe Pinel Institute renders them inadmissible in evidence, the Quebec Court of Appeals ruled by a two-to-one majority decision.

During therapy for his drug addiction in 2017, he mentioned possible sexual deviance to a doctor.

Referred to the Philippe Pinel Institute, the man told a psychiatrist and an establishment criminologist about the attacks he carried out on the three-year-old victim in 2016.

Avoid discouragement

“As far as he is concerned, his comments were made to healthcare professionals and should be kept confidential […] wrote Judge Martin Vauclair of the Quebec Court of Appeals.

The defendant was informed by a psychologist that he had no choice but to make a complaint to the DPJ, which Judge Auclair found unnecessary as the child’s safety was not at risk.

Eventually, the defendant signed a document authorizing investigators to seek the confession, which he would never have done had he known it could incriminate him.

“Failing to recognize that privilege protects a confession in the circumstances of this case strikes me as contrary to common sense and deterring people struggling with sexual deviance from seeking the help they need,” the judge wrote Vauclair.

The latter also criticized the Philippe Pinel Institute for not having a “clearer” protocol to better inform people like Mr Chatillon.

The institute declined our interview request.

Contrary to common sense

Judge Patrick Healy concurred with Judge Vauclair’s verdict. However, the third judge, Robert M. Mainville, disagreed with the majority verdict.

In his view, Mr Chatillon’s written consent proves that his confession that he waived confidentiality was made available to the police. He adds that believing that this cannot lead to charges is “against common sense”.

“An in-depth analysis of the rationale for this decision is being conducted in order to provide comment,” said Audrey Roy-Cloutier, spokeswoman for the director of law and law enforcement.

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