A sexual assault case awaiting sentencing could well encourage other victims to seek compensation without having to go through the civil chamber, believes a law professor.
The SPVM police officer André Hébert-Ledoux, convicted of sexual assault, is expected to receive his sentence in October. The victim in this case is asking her for $ 100,000, since she says she suffered significant financial losses as a result of her assault – she says she is unable to resume her work with victims of sexual assault.
A provision of the Criminal Code (articles 737, 738 and 739) indeed makes it possible to claim damages without having to initiate civil proceedings, steps which can prove to be long and costly.
But it’s rarely used in sexual assault, since the damage should be easy to calculate, explains Amissi Manirabona, associate professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Montreal.
“As it is in criminal matters, the judge will not grant compensation for the damage felt. It has to be material damage. “
“Before 2015, it was very rare to obtain this kind of compensation, except in matters of economic crime,” he continues. But in 2015, we adopted the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, which allowed the Criminal Code to be amended to promote this type of additional sentence. “
In this case, since the victim is asking to be compensated for a salary that they could not get, it might work.
The judge could also decide to award a smaller sum in damages. If the victim has already been compensated by Compensation for Victims of Criminal Acts (IVAC), for example, she might only get the difference between this amount already received and her full salary.
Another problem that may explain why this compensation is seldom requested: the accused must have the means to pay the said sum, that is to say a job, or at least the prospects of employment when leaving prison, the optionally.
If the judge Pierre Belisle grant that restitution, when he pronounces his sentence in October, it could obviously other victims to follow this path.
“It would help victims to realize that this type of compensation exists,” believes Mr. Manirabona.
For example, a victim of domestic violence could ask for this compensation if she had to move to escape her abusive partner, he notes.
“We expect to see more and more, given the scale of prosecutions that there could be in the coming months,” continues Mr. Manirabona, referring to the new wave of reports of sexual misconduct. which has been sweeping over Quebec for a few weeks.
The professor, who will be giving a new course on victims’ law this fall (the first to be given in a law school in Quebec), also believes that future jurists must be better informed about this reality, to better guide litigants.
“We are also launching a legal clinic on the rights of victims of crime. It will help raise awareness among victims, but also future lawyers and prosecutors. It will participate in this collective awareness, which is very topical at the moment. “