The sexual assault to which the teacher pleaded guilty in the Sherbrooke court on Friday was committed one night in July 2022. Leblanc then appeared with a friend at a party. Since the defendant could no longer drive, the two people asked the host for permission to sleep there, which was accepted. However, there was only one bed available for both of them.
“They agree to sleep in the same bed, as long as each one respects his side,” said Leblanc’s lawyer, Ms. Léa Perron.
The complainant went to bed before the accused. “Later, he will go up and lie on his side. At this moment, things are blurry in Mr. Leblanc’s head due to his advanced state of intoxication. “Remember that at some point you will turn around and realize that your hand is at the level of (the complainant’s) chest,” Mr. Perron explained to the court, indicating that his client “failed to take reasonable steps to secure consent.” of (the victim).”
The criminal and penal prosecutor, Véronick Harvey, stated, however, that the complainant, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, felt her attacker’s hand touch her chest and stomach and that he tried to put his hand in her pants.
In handing down the sentence, Judge Benoit Gagnon took into account the defendant’s profession. “He is a full-time high school teacher, he gets very involved and helps with homework. He is a soccer coach,” Leblanc’s lawyer listed.
“You have a brighter future than appearing in court,” the judge said. As a society, we need a teacher. So it’s not my place to be the authority on whether you’re a good teacher or not. I leave that to the school authorities,” he commented before endorsing the joint suggestion of the defense and the Crown.
The plaintiff did not address the court on Friday. “She doesn’t want (Leblanc) to have longer-term consequences, she wants him to understand that he had an impact on her and she doesn’t want him to repeat these actions with anyone else. But she wants him to have some chance to recover and continue his work in teaching,” Mr. Harvey described.
In a telephone interview with La Tribune on Friday afternoon, the general secretary and director of the Communications Department of the Center for School Services of the Sherbrooke Region (CSSRS), Donald Landry, confirmed that Leblanc was removed from his duties as teaching director and voluntary for an indefinite period. period.
“We are going to take him off work while we take stock of the entire situation and make our decisions. »
The CSSRS was unaware of the legal situation of its employee. “When we find ourselves in a situation that affects students, minors or the school, we are always in contact with the police. Since your situation does not refer to students or minors, we were not in contact with the police, so this situation is different,” said the director, who will read the public documents and the sentence.
The Tribune tried in vain to contact the Estrie Education Union on Sunday to discuss its position on the matter.
Leblanc’s actions are unacceptable, considers Judge Gagnon. “I must admit that sexually assaulting a partner, a friend, in the circumstances that you describe to me, is an especially serious act,” he said. Touching a drunk friend on the chest or stomach, whether you are drunk or not, is of little importance to me. »
And, according to him, this aggression is part of a social problem. “The complainant does not have to know that she is at risk. And that is the problem in our society. Any woman can be at risk of being attacked by a friend while she is drunk. It can’t happen like that in an evolved society like ours! » chorused Judge Gagnon, estimating that “our society is based on equality between the sexes.”
The judge admits that “there are more serious actions regarding sexual assault.” “I understand it, but for the victim, that day, it was a serious enough action that she felt the need to file a complaint,” he said, praising the victims’ “obstacle course.”
The magistrate wants to send a message to other young people who might find themselves sleeping in the same bed as a friend. “If they do the irreparable thing, they will have important consequences,” he warned.
Leblanc must abide by several conditions during his two years of probation. Among other things, he must follow up on his drug addiction, he will not be able to contact the victim, he must perform 120 hours of community work and donate $1,800 to the Center for Attention to Victims of Crimes (CAVAC).
He already completed several hours of community service at his school over the past year while his case was pending. CSSRS does not know the motives of teachers who volunteer.
You must also be registered on the Sex Offenders Registry for 10 years.
In addition, “psychological support will be offered to students or staff members who need it,” confirms the CSSRS in a letter that will be sent to parents.