The jury which was sequestered yesterday to decide the fate of Benoit Cardinal in the premeditated murder of his wife ignores all of an investigation carried out by the police of Laval into allegations of sexual assault on nine teenage girls.
• Read also: Allegations of sexual assault by Benoit Cardinal: the CISSS de Laval mandates an external auditor
• Read also: Jury sequestered at the trial of Benoit Cardinal
The alleged victims of the 35-year-old educator would all have been lodged at one time or another at the Laval Youth Center, where Cardinal worked until the week before Jaël Cantin’s death.
It is the mother of one of the teenage girls, aged 13 to 17, who allegedly asked the Directorate of Youth Protection (DPJ) to investigate, after discovering inappropriate text messages in her daughter’s cell phone.
They report a great closeness between the accused and the girls, including one to whom he wrote in particular: “I love you too my pitiful”.
The newspaper had also published screenshots of these messages, a few days after the murder of the mother of six children, mentioning that the Laval police were in charge of the case.
Courtesy photo of the Court
Courtesy photo of the Court
However, it appears that Benoit Cardinal would not have been satisfied with sweet words towards several teenage girls.
There were also reportedly hugs, kisses, touching and full sex with at least one young girl on multiple occasions.
This information was subsequently included in a series of search warrants requested by the Sûreté du Québec in connection with the homicide case.
The media could not reveal this part of the investigation until the jury was sequestered to deliberate, which was ordered yesterday afternoon.
Judge Johanne St-Gelais had previously ruled, before the trial, that no details concerning possible sexual assaults committed by Benoit Cardinal could be disclosed to the 14 jurors, because this could be prejudicial to the accused.
In other words, the magistrate wanted to prevent the jury from concluding incorrectly that the educator had no qualms about murdering his wife, since she was already accused of having committed other crimes.
This is why the teenager who testified that she was informed of Cardinal’s murderous plans had to hide a significant part of her story in court.
Laurie (fictitious name) indeed told the Laval police that she had had several sexual relations with her educator.
Assault in the shed
She gave the investigators a lot of details on the places where the assaults allegedly occurred: in his car, on the pretext of buying candy at the Bulk Barn, in a meeting room at the youth center, in a shed where were rows of sporting goods.
Laurie added that on a few occasions Cardinal has come to wake her up in her bedroom by touching her private parts, likening it to a lover-mistress relationship.
Suspended for a few weeks during the 2019 holidays, Cardinal resigned from his post 24 hours after the start of the police investigation.
No charges of sexual assault have been filed against him at this time. According to our sources, this investigation is currently “on hiatus” pending the outcome of the murder trial.
Bail rejected six months before trial
Six months before his murder trial, Benoit Cardinal tried to be released to live 30 minutes from the American border, with his cousin, whom he had not seen for three years.
A request that Judge Johanne St-Gelais rejected, in particular to preserve public confidence in the administration of justice.
“At this stage, the framework proposed for the release of the applicant is insufficient, in view of the personal and psychological situation of the applicant”, ruled the magistrate in a 12-page decision which was hitherto affected by ” a publication ban.
The jury which is currently deliberating is therefore not aware of this information.
According to Judge St-Gelais, Benoit Cardinal’s cousin “ [minimisait] the burden and responsibility of acting as surety ”.
Annie Leclerc was ready to pledge the sum of $ 50,000, in addition to assuming various costs related to the release of her cousin, such as his food, his clothing, his transport to the court and to the office of his lawyers, as well. that the very expensive cost of an electronic bracelet to know the movements of the accused.
Family for life
When Me Ghassan Toubal, of the defense, pointed out to her that she was betting big – the vast majority of her assets – on a man accused of murder, she did not flinch.
“I trust Benoit. He’s been in my life for a long time, he never lied to me. I am the only one who is there for him and it is important for me because the family is there for life, ”replied the 38-year-old lady.
Cross-examined by Me Valérie Michaud, of the Crown, Mme Leclerc had to admit, however, that she knew very little about her cousin’s critical financial situation and fragile health.
Although she spoke to him on the phone during her incarceration, the resident of Havelock Township, in Montérégie, had not seen Benoit Cardinal for three years.
“What I know of Benoit is really not someone who likes violence, so it would be very surprising [que] the facts that are alleged [soient vrais] “, She justified.
The accused said he had been the target of an Arab
Courtesy photo of the Court
The police found no sign of a break-in at the scene of the crime, which occurred on January 16, 2020.
In the hours following the murder of his wife, Benoit Cardinal tried to put the police on the trail of an intruder of Arab origin.
The 35-year-old accused chose not to deliver his version of the facts to the jury charged with his fate, as he has the right to do.
But Benoit Cardinal had told a story to the first police officers who took his statement, before he was charged with the murder of Jaël Cantin.
The sleuths were trying to verify the hypothesis of a home invasion, of which the thirty-something would have also been the victim.
From his hospital bed, Cardinal described the assailant as follows: 6ft 2in, fairly long curly hair, bearded, heavy build, wearing red Adidas-style sportswear with white lines.
He began by telling the police that his wife had had a problem the day before her death with a well-built teenager who was on the run.
Cardinal reported hearing someone enter their residence through the door near the garage shortly after 3 a.m. on the night of January 16, 2020.
The victim would have woken up and the intruder would have rushed directly at her to punch her twice.
Similar in size and build to the assailant, unlike his wife, Cardinal allegedly attempted to defend her by hitting the man in the face.
But the mobster allegedly knocked out the resident of the premises by vigorously banging his head on a chest of drawers.
Cardinal would have thus lost consciousness, and when he woke up, his partner was no longer moving and the attacker had already fled.
During the stampede, the intruder is said to have spoken in Arabic. With a deep voice full of rage, he would have said “go shit” to the occupants of the premises, which Cardinal would have understood thanks to his experience with young offenders.
Investigators did not believe this version, since the 30-year-old was charged with murder a few hours later.
It must be said that two important elements did not agree with this account.
Cardinal swore he himself locked the door the intruder would have entered, and there was no sign of a break-in.
Then children who witnessed the scene claimed at trial that they did not hear any foreign voices that night.
Benoit Cardinal’s lawyers also conceded this fact during a debate with the judge before the final arguments.